Dignity in the Shadow of Oppression: The abuse and agency of Karen women under militarisation

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Dignity in the Shadow of Oppression: The abuse and agency of Karen women under militarisation

Published date:
Wednesday, November 22, 2006

As the State Peace and Development council continues with its aggressive campaign to expand military control over all areas of Karen State, local villagers confront brutal and systematic abuses perpetrated by the junta's armed forces. In light of such abuse, external representations of Karen women have fallen back on stereotypes of women in armed conflict which depict nothing but their helplessness and vulnerability. The findings of this report, however, demonstrate that such representations can be both inaccurate and harmful. They miss the many ways in which Karen women are actively responding to abuse and resisting militarisation, and furthermore undermine local women's attempts to determine for themselves how they, their families and communities are to develop. Such portrayals foster external perceptions and intervention that neglect local concerns and the strategies that these women are already employing to claim their rights. In this report, KHRG examines the patterns of military abuses against Karen women, the many ways these have affected their lives, the manner in which these women have responded to abuse and the ways that this relationship between military abuse and women's agency has led to changes in the roles of women in Karen society.