Scholars, states and international organizations have begun to systematically count, document and compare sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in conflict-affected countries. Qualitative and quantitative studies point to a “tip of the iceberg” phenomenon, where there is a high prevalence but low level of actual reporting of SGBV. We investigate the conditions in which SGBV is reported or, more significantly, is not reported to discover the trends of reporting in politically oppressive environments where SGBV is thought to be occurring. We ask how the power to report in local conflict-affected areas is affected by national political tensions and pervasive gender discrimination. Reporting of SGBV in Myanmar, a country that has experienced multiple, protracted conflicts since independence, is examined. Analysis of open-access reports over a fifteen-year period reveals a pattern of silence that we argue is rooted in pervasive discriminatory civil and physical practices against women. Engaging with the deeply politicized and gender discriminatory context of conflict-affected societies enables us to see the anomalies of SGBV data and to highlight significant gaps in our knowledge about SGBV.
- Conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence
- ethnic conflict
- feminist methodology
- human rights reporting