Nann Thida Lwin is the assistant director at the International Relations section at the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission. She participated in theInstitute’s fellowship programme where she conducted research to create a training curriculum for raising awareness about domestic violence against women in Myanmar.
Why are you focusing on domestic violence?
Domestic violence is not yet regarded as a crime in Myanmar. Women don’t want to divorce their husbands because they don’t feel they have enough financial independence on their own. I have friends, even women who are educated and the breadwinners of the family, who are ill-treated by their husbands. Some husbands beat their wives because they think that’s what you should do – it’s a source of pride.
The most important aspect in this is the mindset of men. We need to raise awareness among both men and women that this type of violence is a human rights violation.
What do you hope to achieve during the fellowship programme?
I’m originally a teacher and only joined the Commission last spring, so I have no law background. That means I’m doing a lot of work now to learn about customary law and the international conventions on human rights. I’m also trying to collect data about domestic violence in Myanmar from NGOs, but in reality there’s very little data.
It’s also important for me to network and share experiences with other fellowship participants. I have two colleagues in the fellowship programme from National Human Rights Institutes in the Philippines and East Timor, from whom I hope to learn more about the mandates and powers of these institutions so I can take that knowledge home with me and apply it to the commission in Myanmar.
And I’m meeting with the other professors and researchers and asking them for help about what type of material should be put in my trainings. I’m also reading documents and books from the library and doing internet research.
What do you plan to take home with you to Myanmar?
One of my main goals is to develop training on domestic violence, first for the Myanmar National Commission for Human Rights, then government officials, but then ultimately the general population.
There’s very little data in Myanmar about domestic violence. But when I get home I hope to begin to gather data from the police and social welfare departments.
Like I said, I’m new to the commission. I joined however because I want to serve my country as a human rights officer and help spread the word and raise awareness around human rights.