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Models Detained by Myanmar Junta Fear Sexual Exploitation: Rights Activists


Nang Mwe San (left), Thinzar Wint Kyaw.

Myanmar women’s rights activists are worried that two well-known models ­– Thinzar Wint Kyaw and Nang Mwe San ­– detained by the military regime last week will be sexually abused by junta personnel.

The regime announced on August 5 that it has detained and charged the two models with harming culture and dignity for sharing provocative photos and clips to video-hosting platforms that charge users.

Ma Thinzar Shunlei Yi, a member of women’s rights organization Sisters 2 Sisters, said: “We are very concerned about their detention. As they are well-known models, no one can say that junta soldiers will not sexually exploit the two women. By arresting them, the regime showed its desire to control women.”

Both women face charges under the Electronic Transactions Law, which carries a potential penalty of seven to 15 years in jail.

Women’s rights activists believe that the military regime has overstepped the bounds of law by arresting the two models.

Daw Tin Tin Nyo, an advisor to the Burmese Women’s Union (BWU), said: “Their actions cause harm to no one. They are not committing a crime and so they can’t be charged or prosecuted. They are just displaying their own bodies through official channels, which does not amount to a crime. It is a form of entertainment. No government owns their bodies or can make decisions on their behalf.”

Thinzar Wint Kyaw was detained briefly by the regime last month after travelling to Shan State to attend the wedding of the daughter of the Shan State Progress Party (SSPP) spokesperson. Tensions are running high between the SSPP and the junta, despite the fact that coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing met SSPP leaders recently. Accusing Thinzar Wint Kyaw of harming culture and dignity is just an excuse to detain her, said observers.

Nang Mwe San had her passport seized by the regime when she went to renew it recently. The regime did not clarify the reason why it was seized.

In March last year, a month after the coup, Nang Mwe San, who trained as a doctor, posted a clip on social media in which she talked in English about the Myanmar military’s crackdown on anti-coup protesters and its crimes against the Rohingya ethnic minority.

“As you all know, they are killing many innocent people who are protesting peacefully in Myanmar,” the model said in the video.

Many people believe that the clip is the real reason she has been detained.

Observers have also noted that the regime has not detained other models who support the military or avoid criticism of the regime, even if they pose in similar fashion to Thinzar Wint Kyaw and Nang Mwe San.

Daw Tin Tin Nyo of the BWU said: “What do they [the regime] mean by calling it ‘harming Myanmar culture’? They have beautiful bodies and they reveal them for the purpose of entertainment. It is their right and we can’t control that.”

At least 241 women have died at the hands of the junta since the coup, while some 2,372 have been detained, according to the BWU.