Date: 8th March 2012
“Women moving forward from Fear to Freedom”
The Karen Women Organization (KWO) welcomes another International Women’s Day. One of the themes for this year is “FROM FEAR TO FREEDOM”. On March 8th each year, women around the world reflect on our progress toward equality and freedom. We celebrate our victories and look at how far women still have to go. KWO has worked for many years to protect, support, defend and empower women who have been abused, by anyone from members of the Burmese military or their own husbands. These women have been taught to be afraid, to live each day with fear.
Worldwide, at least one third of all women are victims of violence. It is the most widespread human rights violation on earth. We see this every day, particularly in the 7 refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border where KWO runs safe houses for women who have been subjected to violence and need a safe harbor. 77% of the cases we handle are women who have been subjected to domestic violence, the other 23% are rapes or attempted rapes. Women will not be able to move from fear to freedom without a working system to achieve justice in the camps and for any cases referred outside of camps to the justice system in Thailand.
We believe the current system is failing women in our community. Community systems and structures need to be supported and strengthened in order to directly and effectively reduce the violence experienced by women in our community. Camp justice systems must be made more comprehensive and supported rather than undermined.
KWO Joint Secretary 2, Ta Mla Saw said today, “Daw Aung San Suu Kyi wrote a book called “Freedom from Fear” so we know that she too, as a woman, understands how important this idea is. Our aim in KWO is to help women who have suffered from violence, to transform their fear, and for it to grow into something stronger. freedom! Every woman understands this.”
Currently, the Burmese government says they want to work for peace in Burma and has started the peace process talks with different ethnic opposition groups. KWO has called for women’s participation in the peace process to ensure that this process reflects the voices of women who live this conflict. KWO reaffirms that only women’s participation in the peace process can stop fear and create freedom without fear for all women
As KWO has been involved in solving the problem of violence against women in the community, we believe that any solution must include an empowered, engaged, and educated community, especially women and women’s groups. “KWO believes that all refugees and particularly women should continue to say to everyone, “Nothing about us without us.” We need to be involved and engaged in order to gain our rights, equality and our freedom.” Stated Dah Eh Kler, Secretary
Right now the current system is teaching women that there is no safe place and no future. There is a lot of fear and not enough freedom. This International Women’s Day all of us should recommit ourselves to strengthening the justice systems available to abused women in refugee camps. We have to work together to win access to real justice and so women can find themselves successfully walking from fear to freedom.
Nan Dah Eh Kler – +66 857269291
Naw Blooming Night Zan- +66 885455746