YANGON — The recent rape and murder of a 26-year-old woman in Yangon has raised security concerns among the city’s female population.
Police arrested a taxi driver, Myo Zaw Oo, who confessed to the brutal crime, on Jan. 24, three days after the body was found.
Ma Shwe Yi Win, a deputy supervisor at the Health Ministry’s Food and Drug Administration Department, went missing at about 7:30 on the night of Jan. 20 on her way home to Dagon Township after doing some shopping at the Hleden Center in downtown Yangon.
The journey should take less than 30 minutes. But when Ma Shwe Yi Win failed to make it home later that night, her family reported her missing. The next morning police found her half-naked body lying near a sports field beside Nga Moe Yeik creek in North Dagon Township.
The police statement says the young woman had gotten into Myo Zaw Oo’s taxi. It says the two began to argue when the driver asked for a higher fare and that Myo Zaw Oo then choked his passenger and stabbed her in the throat with a screwdriver.
When Ma Shwe Yi Win lost consciousness, the statement says, Myo Zaw Oo drove her to North Dagon, where he raped her near the sports field. He then took her belongings, including a platinum necklace, earrings and a phone, and left her body.
Police arrested Myo Zaw Oo three days later at a mobile phone shop in Mingalar Taung Nyunt Township, where he had gone to install new software on the stolen phone.
News of the rape and murder has heightened fears that the city’s streets are not safe.
“I couldn’t even sleep when I heard about that,” said Ma Thuzar, 30.
She takes a taxi to work and back every day, preferring that to the public buses, on which sexual assault is a common occurrence.
“Now I don’t feel safe in a taxi either,” she said.
While cases of sexual harassment and abuse, from persistent catcalls and unwanted touching to assault, are nothing new in the country’s most populous city, reports of rape are on the rise. They were also the most common major crime recorded in Yangon in 2016 and 2017.
Rape cases accounted for 229 of 469 major crimes recorded in 2016, and for 270 of 478 major crimes in 2017.