During a period of historic democratic transition within Myanmar, the rule of law has emerged as a priority issue. The government of Myanmar has repeatedly emphasized the importance of strengthening rule of law for the development of the country as Myanmar emerges from decades of military rule. However, the legacy of policies that systematically undermined legal education, an independent judiciary and the private legal profession, combined with unchecked power of state officials and widespread corruption, have led to a serious lack of public trust in justice sector institutions and those who are responsible for dispensing justice. Public awareness of the law, and accountability of state actors for enforcing and upholding the law, will take many years of institutional change to achieve.
IDLO has been involved in a number of rule of law and access to justice projects in Myanmar since establishing a presence there in 2013, and established a field office in Yangon in October 2015.
Although Myanmar is a Party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children in the country still suffer disproportionate risks of early marriage, sexual exploitation, trafficking, neglect and abuse. In order to address these challenges, in 2019, the parliament passed a new Child Rights Law which covers all aspects of a child’s life, including health, education, juvenile justice, children in armed conflict and alternative care arrangements. However, there is still a need to develop rules to guide the law’s implementation.
Every day, some 2.2 million people board buses in Yangon, the commercial capital of Myanmar. They travel across the city to commute to work, visit their families, see a doctor, run errands, go about their day.
In recent years, paralegals have become a part of the justice chain in Myanmar, playing an increasingly important role in raising legal awareness and supporting access to justice for Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) survivors.
Strengthening prevention and accountability for sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) through the rule of law and access to justice has been a priority for the Government of Myanmar since 2011, when it embarked on an unprecedented transition towards democracy. SGBV cases are rarely reported and, when they are, the justice sector fails to provide adequate remedies. Therefore, there is a widely recognized need to increase prevention of and accountability for SGBV.
Women and girls in Myanmar face many barriers when trying to access justice for sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Chief among these are the pervasive negative attitudes which seek to justify and allow SGBV within families and communities. In addition, SGBV survivors are often stigmatized and blamed for the violence preventing them from effectively pursuing legal remedies.
On November 25, 2018, community-based organizations, non-governmental actors and representatives from the legal community convened in Mandalay, Myanmar for a special community theater performance raising awareness about violence against women.
While data is difficult to gather, sexual and gender-based violence in Myanmar is prevalent and has been characterized as a “silent emergency” by the United Nations Population Fund.
Recent research shows that sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is one of the leading problems impacting communities across Myanmar. Women in particular face significant and widespread levels of SGBV, with both formal and informal systems failing to provide satisfactory remedies. Inadequate legal protections, combined with pervasive cultural and social stigma, low public legal awareness, and deep mistrust in the formal justice system, pose a daunting range of barriers to accessing justice and other services such as legal, medical and psycho-social support.