A new law being considered in Myanmar may put men behind bars if they refuse to marry a woman they got pregnant.
According to AsiaOne, a senior official announced that the government is drafting a new law that will punish men who refuse to marry a woman after impregnating her. This is part of a new and tough legislation design which aims to empower women and strengthen their rights.
Naw Tha Wah, director of Myanmar’s Social Welfare and Development department, added that the new law will penalize suspects of domestic violence for the first time. The law will also make gang-rape a capital offense.
If the new law gets passed in parliament, it will punish and imprison any man who refuses to marry a woman after living together for five years. Furthermore, if the woman is found pregnant, the man will spend two more years in jail.
“We are now drafting a bill to protect women and prevent violence against them. Women can complain if they are bullied into not getting married after living together. We will give them protection under the law,” said Naw Tha Wah.
Myanmar is considered a socially conservative country where gender stereotype is deeply defined and sex is still considered a taboo topic. In fact, there is no corresponding word for female genitalia in the Burmese language and any garments used by a woman on the lower half of their bodies are deemed unclean so they should be washed separately from men’s clothes.
When the isolationist junta stepped down in 2011, some changes in attitude towards women changed slightly. However, activists say that women in Myanmar are still treated like second-class citizens.