A Myanmar army soldier raped an intellectually disabled woman during the two-day occupation of a village in Myanmar’s Sagaing Region late last month, several locals and a health professional told Myanmar Now.
The 100-troop column arrived in the village of Thayet Pin in Kani Township on the afternoon of August 27, launching a raid that forced most villagers to flee.
The woman, who is in her 40s, was among those who were unable to leave as the community came under siege.
Despite the continued presence of junta troops, her parents—who initially fled Thayet Pin—returned to the village the following morning to help their daughter escape.
They reportedly found her alone in the family house. At 11am, while the parents were still present, a soldier in plainclothes entered the home, according to locals who recalled the accounts provided by the family members.
They said that the man forced the parents to stay in the house as he brought the woman outside, where she was then raped.
A former health worker who examined the survivor after the attack said that her wounds were consistent with rape.
“I found injuries to the woman’s private parts even though I was not able to do an internal examination. But scratches on her knees and elbows suggest that she resisted,” he said, adding that the woman was in stable condition.
She was given emergency contraceptive pills but no other medicine or treatment was available.
Neither the woman nor her family members were willing to speak directly to the media about the incident, the health worker explained.
During the occupation of Thayet Pin, the junta soldiers set up posts at five locations in the village, including in a school and in brick homes, leaving on August 29. They also reportedly stayed in other homes throughout the village, including those near the woman who was targeted.
“We found traces of the soldiers’ cooking, their blankets and pillows there,” the health worker said.
The troops also ransacked a clinic where internally displaced persons had been seeking treatment, destroying nearly 20m kyat (US$9,500) worth of medical supplies there.
They belong to the same junta column that raided the village of Yin Paung Taing in Yinmabin Township earlier in August, killing at least 18 people. Along with pro-military Pyu Saw Htee militiamen, they have also been travelling into Pale and Kani Townships and carrying out raids on the communities living there.
Myanmar army soldiers have repeatedly been accused of perpetrating sexual violence against women during attacks on villages, both since the coup and in the decades of civil war the preceded it.
The military has not released any information on their troops’ activities in Sagaing.
In November last year, soldiers who entered the village of Akluai in Chin State’s Tedim Township, were accused of raping two women, a 27-year-old woman who had given birth less than one month earlier and her 30-year-old sister-in-law who was seven months pregnant at the time.
The Chin Human Rights Organisation called the incident “disgusting and extremely inhuman” and demanded justice for the two women.