Myanmar women suffer most: Suu Kyi

Ulhas Joglekar ulhasj at
Fri Mar 10 05:42:16 PST 2000

9 March 2000

Myanmar women suffer most: Suu Kyi BANGKOK: In an address smuggled out of Myanmar to mark International Women's Day on Wednesday, pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi said her countrywomen bear the brunt of economic and political hardship in the military state. ``Our political problems are such that there are now many political prisoners in Burma,'' said Suu Kyi in a videotaped statement made available to news organizations in Bangkok. ``When men are taken prisoners, it is the womenfolk who are left to struggle.'' ``The longer I work in politics, the more I am convinced that there is a need to work for women's rights,'' she said. ``Women and children are always the ones who suffer most in times of crisis.'' ``If there is little to eat, it is the men who get the lion's share,'' she said. Suu Kyi said men had a privileged position in Myanmar culture, although it was often women that were the source of courage for men, and women who had a greater spirit of endurance. ``This is not to say that I do not appreciate what men have done for our cause. But on this day I would like to express my admiration for women all over the world, in Burma and elsewhere,'' she said. She appealed to the United Nations and international financial institutions to take immediate action to help protect women and children worldwide against violence and poverty, and to employ women to design and implement programs of assistance. Suu Kyi also lent her support to a campaign launched Wednesday called the World's March of Women 2000 by women's groups in 139 countries, to lobby governments and international organizations to overcome violence and poverty afflicting women. Meanwhile, a forthcoming study by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) says violence against women in South Asia is ``far more extensive than is generally acknowledged.'' It describes various methods used to inflict physical damage and pain on women, ``some direct, others indirect and slow.'' They include stove-burning --kitchen ``accidents'' arranged to injure or kill young brides --and acid attacks, which it says are a growing menace in Bangladesh and Pakistan. UNICEF executive director Carol Bellamy issued a call to governments Tuesday to recognise and work to modify customs which have made ``honour killings'' and acid attacks acceptable. ``For too long, some men have been getting away with murder,'' she said in a statement to mark International Women's Day. Bellamy condemned ``honour'' crimes --murders by men of female relatives they suspect of sexual activity outside marriage -- acid attacks, dowry deaths, and female infanticide. The statement conceded that ``no reliable infanticide statistics are available,'' but Bellamy said in an interview ``it tends to happen more in Asia.'' (Agencies) For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service
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