Regional group launches manual to aid survivors of violence

A regional human rights group has marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women by launching a manual for female victims of human rights violations in Myanmar.

Asia Justice and Rights launched the manual, Unlearning Impunity: A Guide to Understanding and Action for Women Survivors, in Yangon on November 24, the eve of the international day.

“This manual speaks to AJAR’s conviction that the struggle against impunity must be a process accessible to victims
and stakeholders of justice at the community level,” said Ms Galuh Wandita, the director of Jakarta-based AJAR and co-author of the guide.

The release of the manual follows participatory research projects by AJAR and its partners in Indonesia, Timor-Leste and Myanmar since 2013 aimed at strengthening women survivors of violence in post-conflict situations.

The projects included providing safe places for women victims of gross human rights violations to gather and share experiences about violence and impunity, AJAR said in a statement.

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It said impunity perpetuates silence about violence, ignores past and present trauma, and refuses to demand accountability from perpetrators, whether institutional or individual.

“Perpetrators still have social, economic and political power. In this way, impunity maintains cycles of violence against women through cultural and religious norms,” AJAR said.

The manual offers a process that encourages women who have survived violence to “unlearn” those norms and resist the many ways used to maintain impunity, it said.

AJAR said the process had already been used in Myanmar to assist in the healing of 80 women survivors from various ethnic groups, including Kachin, Karen and Ta’ang, as well as victims of conflict-related violations and other forms of state violence, including former political prisoners.

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