A court in Myanmar’s Mandalay district sentenced a child rapist and murderer to death on Friday in one of the latest in a growing number of sexual assault cases reported in the Southeast Asian country, media sources said.
Phyo Htet Aung, 23, was sentenced in the district court in Pyin Oo Lwin township after being convicted of raping and murdering a two-year-old girl from Mway Kadoseik village in Madaya township on Feb. 13.
The girl was found unconscious in a banana plantation after going missing from her grandparents’ home and died later in a local hospital, and her attacker was later apprehended and handed over to the police, a report by The Irrawaddy said on Friday.
Speaking to reporters after the trial, deputy township judge Htay Htay Maw said that Phyo Htet Aung had been sentenced according to law.
“The court gave Phyo Htet Aung the death penalty under the provisions of Criminal Code 302/1(C). We were under no pressure from any persons or organization to give him this sentence,” Htay Htay Maw said.
“He received a 20-year sentence for the child rape, but he also committed murder, and that is why we sentenced him to death,” she said.
The death penalty has not been carried out in Myanmar for decades, and Phyo Htet Aung’s fate may ultimately be decided on appeal, if one is filed, and by prison regulations, The Irrawaddy said.
Assaults on the rise
Sexual abuse and assaults are on the rise in Myanmar with just over 1,400 cases reported in 2017, including roughly 500 adult women victims and 900 children, according to a report issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs in February.
The total figure was 300 more than the number of cases recorded in 2016, including about 430 involving adult victims and 670 involving child victims.
The increase in the overall number of rape case in the country has sparked campaigns calling for the death penalty for rapists, especially following recent attacks on several children, including a 12-year-old girl who was raped and brutally murdered in Kachin state’s Mogaung township.
On March 18, an angry mob of about 500 stormed a police station in Mandalay’s Aungmyaythazan township demanding that authorities turn over a suspect in the rape of a seven-year-old girl.
And on March 17, about 100 activists, lawyers, and members of political parties and civil society organizations staged a demonstration in Taungoo township in south-central Myanmar’s Bago region, calling for capital punishment for child rapists, the Eleven Myanmar news service reported on March 19.
A Protection and Prevention of Violence Against Women bill has been submitted to Myanmar’s parliament. If passed, it would become the country’s first law to combat violence against women, including domestic and sexual violence, marital rape, and workplace and public harassment and assaults, and harassment by stalking.
The draft bill carries a life sentence for the rape of girls under the age of 18 anddisabled women, and a two-to-five-year jail term for those found guilty of marital rape, according to The Irrawaddy.
Reported by Khay Mani Win for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Richard Finney.