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Left in the dark: Rakhine state’s internet blackout leaves women at risk



As fighting rages and the world's longest-running internet blackout continues in Myanmar's Rakhine State, civil society groups have expressed concern as women and vulnerable groups are left unable to report rights abuses being committed against them.

The world’s longest internet ban is continuing in eight townships of conflict torn Rakhine state, where the impacts on women are giving rise to major concern among civil society organisations.
The internet blackout – in place since June 21, 2019 – is exacerbating an already escalating human rights situation in western Myanmar, and without news or access to public health information, civilians are being left ill equipped to protect themselves. While stats for blacked-out Rakhine state are hard to come by, local women’s organisations across the country have reported rises in gender-based violence under community lockdowns.

Maung Saungkha, Founder and Executive Director of Freedom of Expression organisation, Athan, said that their data has shown an increase in conflict in Rakhine state since the internet shutdown, with many more human rights violations being committed.
«Women and children are especially at risk,» said Maung Saungkha.

Not having the internet has made things more difficult … Although phone calls and SMS services are available, that is not enough to express what is happening in conflict areas and how it is impacting those at risk

This article was written by MAGGI QUADRINI

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