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Sexual and gender violence

Davies & Sara have successfully discussed upon a topic at hand due to the fact that, they have identified causes, perpetrators, scale of occurrence, targeted groups and of course how such incidents of “Violence Against Women.” (VAW) are counted, brought into surface, identified all politics around it. Davies & Trues have grouped an entire analysis into three sections, first section; explains the background of fragile setting in Myanmar by documenting a significance to reporting incidences, such as political, institutional and legal constraints. Second section; explains the approach of analyzing conflict-related SGBV interrogates the reported data for its patterns as well as its absences and gaps, and the final section; analyzes the reports in Myanmar over a fifteen years-time frame.

A main issue under discussion should be “sexual and gender-based violence are brought into surface (reported) and counted in the conflict-affected areas, are greatly constrained”. However, the topic chosen by Davies & Trues is relevant and significant for scholarship, as it opens eyes of a reader, familiar with politics upon bringing into surface and counting of SGBV, it also offers a reader a window to see “through” by providing a case study- Myanmar.

Issues

The Davies & Trues put general argument that, SGBV is greatly constrained by a “tip of iceberg” phenomenon, i.e. there is a high prevalence but few cases are brought into surface which seems as norms in many contexts. Regarding my interpretation, this argument is valid since, silence in reporting is sometimes entrenched within cultural values of society, hence women facing incident tend to be quiet.

The second argument by Davies & Trues is that, bringing into surface and documentation of claimed incidents faces with social, economic and other obstacles. This is evidenced by the following examples, for instance, on legal obstacle, Davies & Trues have cited the Myanmar penal code as one of the challenge, since it only stress on sexual violence and remain silent on gender-based violence. “At present, only one crime of sexual violence – rape – exists under the prescribed conditions. “Myanmar Penal Code 1861, art.376.6”. Another legal obstacle is that, even if a rape victim wishes to pursue prosecution, there are immense legal obstacles to the investigation and prosecution of rape cases. Police are known to falsify evidence and coerce victims and witnesses; the Courts permit testimony of the rape victim’s previous sexual history to be used against them, admissibility of evidence is at the Court’s discretion and the alleged perpetrator can easily buy an acquittal.

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The third argument is that, the perpetrators of sexual violence are both states (military) and Non-government Actor Groups (NSGAs). They have supported this argument by citing 26 reports that documented sexual crimes being committed by both NSAGs and Myanmar armed forces.

However, the Davies & Trues have responded to the issue under discussion (politics of counting and reporting of SGBV) by providing suggestion on what can be done. First suggestion is to reflect on the patterns of non-reporting, as well as official and unofficial reporting, when analyzing and interpreting SGBV reports, which may be as much about political struggle as incidents.

The second suggestion is that, the analysis of SGBV reports must be supplemented with other forms of contextual gender analysis, since this will help to avoid the tip of an iceberg-information.

Conclusion

Generally, the Davies & Trues have managed to provide a deep and insightful analysis on the topic under discussion which for a long time seemed to be overlooked and was given a generic description. Davies & Trues have used simple language that enables any reader to understand the topic at hand easily. However, on the other side the Davies & Trues have shown weaknesses on building their arguments that is, by concentrating too much on region with conflict within Myanmar to assess the SGBV, and superficially comment on how incidences are counted and reported on areas without conflicts. Also, Davies & Trues have given less solution to the existing challenges on counting and reporting.

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