On January 28 this year, over 120 thousand South Korean citizens rallied for a massive protest targeting legislation of of a ban on forced religious conversion so that a legal framework could be established to properly serve justice on violent crimes in the name of religion.
While in less savory parts of the world, especially in 3rd world countries, religious zealots committing crimes are commonplace but a nation as developed as South Korea afflicted is a testament to the fact that extremism exist in every part of the world.
Human Rights Association for Forced Conversion (HRAFC), a Korea civil society that promotes social recognition of human rights violation by religion, highlights the case of a 25 years old Gu Ji-In that kidnapped, confined and found dead after being suffocated by parents as part of their "persuasion" so that their daughter will conform to their religious idealogies.
Before she was found dead in a pension, a place already reserved for 3 months, she have been locked by the volition of her family at a Catholic Monastery for more than a month in 2016.
One can only imagine the horrible experiences Gu Ji-In experienced before she was murdered by her own parents but according to the HRAFC and other organizations outraged by similar string of incidents in South Korea claim that this was "typical" of forced conversion by Christian Pastors that encourages criminal acts on parents towards their children.
Pastors and other religious figures from established, conservative organizations such as Christian Council of Korea (CKK) - the true progenitors behind these crimes - goes off scott free as they did not committ these acts themselves and extant laws are weak to punish them accordingly.
The International Women's Peace Group held "Campaign for Restoration of World Women's Rights" that denounces the harsh methods of the CKK 'violations of women's rights by the CCK'. Memorial services were held not only across multiple cities in South Korea but also in Major African cities such as Cape Town and Johannesburg. The memorial service was held 49 days after Gu Ji-In's passing according to traditional Korean tradition. However, the aforementioned CKK lodged complaints against the rally held in honour of the deceased and for denunciation of the CKK.
A simple search on the internet is enough to see the list of similar kinds of events that occurs under the same Modus Operandi throughout South Korea's recent history. But the degree of malice runs even deeper than that considering how authorities tend to disregard those as "family" or "religious" problems.
The situation in The Republic of Korea is just a drop in the water of injustices suffered not only by women everywhere but humanity as a whole when large, influential organizations run unchecked by the law.
Myanmar - a worse off nation
It is not only a logical conclusion but backed by numerous hard facts that countries less well-off than that of South Korea will see conditions much worse.
Without a doubt, the situation in Myanmar as a fledgling democracy that is struggling against the powers of old is far worst. From well known hospitals and doctors that neither takes responsibility nor apologize for deaths caused by malpractice to monks committing sexual crimes, the nation is bed-ridden by those that would step over the lives of the common folk for their own nefarious gains.
Decades of civil war, oppression on all sectors including education, poverty cycle that lower income citizens cannot escape from - just a small fraction of problems plaguing this nation.
As the new civilian government led by the National League for Democracy enters into half duration of their term, conditions have gotten worse from mismanagement of affairs such as the infamous Rakhine State chaos that had earned Myanmar a horrible reputation amongst the international community.While the argument can be made that Myanmar is progressing upwards steadily despite setbacks, one must also not fail to review those so called "boons" that on a surface level provide untold benefits.
Under the previous administration led by a quasi-civilian government under ex-President Thein Sein saw many "firsts" for Myanmar - particularly in terms of technological advancements in the form of personal telecommunication devices and unfettered access to the internet. Today, Myanmar's 4G connection ranks surprisingly close to the top amongst South East Asian nations. It also boasts a huge growth spurt in terms of internet penetration rates as high as 47%, according to research organizations.
Social Media, Facebook in particular, took off in Myanmar to the point where it can be said that "Facebook is internet". It had become the place not only for civilians to connect to their families but for government ministries, large businesses and other influential organizations to reach to the masses. It did indeed bring about positive changes in Myanmar - people are now more aware of things going on within their own country. More people are reading the news, engaging in discussions and enjoying reprieve from their hardships from digital entertainment. It had also undoubtedly played an instrumental role in shedding light on crimes that will otherwise go unnoticed.
But Myanmar - as often touted commonly by businessmen - is a leap-frog nation. While it applies positive thinking, one of the negative side effects are that citizens were never properly conditioned for the torrent of information and most often, misinformation.
Injustice - a profitable venture
The constant barrage of information as a result of the sudden plunge into the digital age causes confusion amongst the "netizens" of Myanmar on a daily basis. They are now exposed to current happenings, practices, trends, technologies and cultures that most are alien. And so, as any humans would do when faced with an overwhelming force, a "fight or flight" response is evoked. Many are quick to fall in lie behind ideas far more complex than they can comprehend just as quickly as they would reject ideas that conflict with their personal views.
It creates the perfect conditions for those that with the moral compass of an opportunistic bacteria to swoop in and play their craft.
There simply are way too many cases to highlight during this past month of June and current date of July alone. Therefore, in keeping with the theme of the unfortunate Gu Ji-In, I would highlight two cases that created a splash but yet handled misappropriately.
The first one is of a Buddhist monk - called Kyaw Min - from a monastery located in Mingin Township, Sagaing Region. According to sources, the 30 years old man that have been a monk for 3 years at Chan Myae Si Thar Tha Na Yeik Thar had raped a woman suffering from a mental illness a total of 7 times by luring her with the promise of precious jewellery - a necklace.
He was caught red handed only July 21 by authorities in a tunnel-way underneath the Pagoda. Despite atrocious taboos committed not only by a man of the cloth but also on "sacred grounds" - the solution that was reached by the authorities was marrying the victim off to the monk by kicking him out of the clergy as it was the "most convenient" move as there was no person that wanted to be the plaintiff against the rapist. Sources also claimed that the psychotic woman also agreed to have him as her husband.
This sparked outrage for many across Myanmar over a variety of reasons - the rule of law, safety and rights of woman, treatment of a mentally ill person and more on top of the allegations that the rapist had bribed authorities to smoothen out his "sentence". Of course, only time will telll whether the newlyweds - a rapist and his mentally ill victim, will stick together but common sense alone suggest that it is impossible.
The next example concerns a celebrity. An actor named Thiha Tin Soe, famous as the "father of independence" for his role in films related to colonial era and patriotism, was accused of raping his maid. The case was brought to the police by the alleged victim called xxxxx Nyo. When video interviews of the so-called victim emerged online, it sparked a huge debate online as she was rather lacking in the looks department. Of course, feminists and other women right's activists were quick to jump the gun - throwing the victim their support by claiming that rape happens regardless of whether a victim looks good or ugly.
Initially, it went well for Nyo especially due to the fact that the actor had disappeared in order to evade arrest from charges that do not allow bail. However, as news of this spread, it had come to light that by the good graces of netizens that Nyo was a fraudster that have been colluding with her maid agency to extort money from false claims of rape. The police then picked up on this lead and found out that she had succeeded in her method two times in other areas of Myanmar and had tried to do so without success at 7 different places in Yangon Region alone.
From the overwhelming evidence, the police arrested Nyo and her maid agent under multiple charges including libel and false claims. But failed to follow up on previous incidents concerning Nyo as well as the "gang" of domestic helpers, rumored to be around 50 strong, associated with the maid agency and extorts money from unfortunate employers.
These two examples are certainly not the most vile or damning evidence of profitable injustices - merely the tip of an iceberg.
But they are a common enough occurence that splendidly bring my point across - the netizens of Myanmar remain all the more naive amidst the torrential influx of information. Just as there are many that puts up a front of being a human rights activist and standing up for women, children and disabled persons everywhere - there are those that would manipulate those self-christened champions of humanity into getting what they want.
Myanmar being a impoverished country of sorts means a ripe market for INGOs, NGOs and Civil Societies. While the goodwill efforts of many well-established groups such as the Red Cross could be seen and measured, many other groups engage in more dubious acvitities all the while living off international donors. And those are just a small part of the groups that would trample on the values of human rights just to further their agenda.
The citizens of Myanmar must wisen up - and do so quickly before misfortune happens to befall not some poor soul like Gu Jin-In in a far away land but to themselves or their loved ones.