Welcome to the golden land: sexual and gender-based violence against women refugees from Burma

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Serra, Vanina
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“Welcome to the Golden Land” is the phrase which greets visitors arriving at the International Airport of Rangoon, the capital of Burma. A country of extreme richness from the cultural and environmental points of view, Burma, now officially called Myanmar, is a paradise for tourists, being one of the last countries of Asia still offering an insight of traditional Indochina. But many tourists maybe are unaware that the country could preserve its typical oriental charm as a consequence of the isolation policy established by one of the worst and longest lasting military dictatorships in the world. In the present work it will be shown how the high incidence of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in Burma is one of the leading factors determining the flight of hundreds of thousands of women into Thailand and how the Thai Government policy towards refugees from Burma does not provide them with adequate protection, but, on the contrary, often exposes them to further violations of their basic rights. The importance of the accession of Thailand to the United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees in order to increase the safety of women crossing the border to seek protection from the repression of the Burmese army will be highlighted. This step should be further strengthened by the elaboration of a refugee status determination policy which takes into account SGBV as a ground to grant asylum. Besides, the Burmese junta should hand over the government to a truly democratic administration which should elaborate effective projects aimed at enhancing gender equality within the country. It is further underlined the importance of the involvement of the international community in the effort to stop the massive violations of women’s rights enacted in an environment of total impunity by the military junta which has been ruling Burma since the 1960s.
Second semester University: New University of Lisbon.
emigration, Burma, sexual exploitation, Thailand, violence against women, women refugees, Convention Relating the Status of Refugees