Me Me, a women's protection & empowerment counsellor in a UNFPA-supported women’s and girls’ centre in a Rohingya camp in Myanmar, shares how their educational sessions on health & human rights are helping uplift girls in their community.
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The Rohingya minority in Rakhine state, Myanmar, has undergone a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing marked by widespread sexual violence. As extensively documented by the United Nations and by media and human rights groups, Myanmar's security forces systematically rounded up and sexually abused Rohingya women and girls.
Alinesa fled Myanmar with her family 26 years ago and found safety in the south-eastern Bangladeshi coastal district of Cox's Bazar. She grew up there in Kutupalong refugee settlement, taking advantage of educational opportunities she was denied back home.
The border between Bangladesh and Myanmar is the site of the world's fastest growing refugee crisis. Over 620,000 Rohingya refugees from neighbouring Rakhine State in Myanmar have arrived in Cox's Bazar District in just three months. With more refugees arriving every day, settlements are overflowing.
Khin Khin shudders when she thinks about walking in the dark from her shelter to the shared toilet. "I never feel safe to go to the toilet at night," she said. In Myanmar, 1.5 million people have no toilet in their home or yard.
Following a visit to Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar have settled in makeshift camps, a United Nations envoy has called for enhanced measures to protect and assist victims of sexual violence among the displaced population.
"My sister was killed after gang rape in front of me, and they threw hot water on my body," Fatima*, 30, told a case worker at a UNFPA-supported women-friendly space in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Almost 600,000 Rohingya refugees have crossed the border since 25 August, escaping brutal violence amid the escalating crisis in Myanmar's Rahkine State.
Myanmar Rohingya abuses may be crimes against humanity, UN rights experts warn CEDAW and CRC have called on the Myanmar authorities to immediately stop violence in Rakhine, and to promptly and effectively investigate and vigorously prosecute cases of violence against women and children.
Opening Remarks by UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, at the plenary session of the Five Days of Violence Prevention Conference at Johannesburg, South Africa
Warning that the horrific accounts of rape and sexual assault against Rohingya women and girls fleeing unrest in Myanmar could be "just the tip of the iceberg," the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) underscored the need to ensure that such violence is prevented and called for additional resources so that it can reach all those in need of assistance.