Voices for Change (Domestic Violence and Gender Discrimination in the Palaung Area)

This report documents how women in the Palaung area are affected by domestic violence and gender discrimination. Survey results collected by PWO show that almost all respondents had experienced or seen physical violence within families in their community, and that physical violence is occurring with alarming frequency, in many cases on an almost daily basis. PWO’s research shows that gender discrimination is widespread in the Palaung area, and that many people’s attitudes conform to traditional gender stereotypes which assume that women must fulfil the role of homemaker and accept sole responsibility for childcare duties.

Since the 2010 election, Burma’s military-backed regime has failed to take any effective action to promote women’s rights and gender equality, or to uphold its commitments to CEDAW. Burma remains one of only two ASEAN countries lacking a specific law criminalising domestic violence, and PWO’s’ research has found that there are no government-led projects to raise awareness of domestic violence and women’s rights in the rural areas of northern Shan State, where the vast majority of the Palaung population live.

The ‘new’ regime has yet to address the economic and social crises fuelling domestic violence in the Palaung area. The economic crisis afflicting the Palaung people as a direct result of the state’s monopoly of the tea industry, as well as the increase in opium cultivation and addiction in the Palaung area since the 2010 election have directly contributed to the problem of domestic violence, as males resort to physical violence as a means of expressing their anger and frustration with their situation.