No Rohingya woman safe as rapists run rampant: Experts -

No Rohingya woman safe as rapists run rampant: Experts

Credit: straitstimes.com

  • Oct 19 2017 21:45About: 1 month ago
  • 10 views

COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh (THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION) - Rape is being used as a weapon of war in the Rohingya crisis, with no woman safe from the risk of sexual attack as Myanmar's Muslim minority is driven out of its homeland, according to experts in the field and those caught up in the crisis.

Doctors treating some of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar in recent weeks have seen dozens of women with injuries consistent with violent sexual attacks, according to UN clinicians.

And women interviewed by the Thomson Reuters Foundation tell of violent rape by Myanmar security forces as they flee their homes, part of a mass Rohingya exodus.

"The Burmese (Myanmar) military has clearly used rape as one of a range of horrific methods of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya," said Skye Wheeler, a sexual violence expert with Human Rights Watch who has assessed the fast-filling camps.

"Rape and other forms of sexual violence has been widespread and systematic as well as brutal, humiliating and traumatic," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Myanmar dismisses all such accusations of ethnic cleansing, saying it has to tackle insurgents, whom it accuses of starting fires and attacking civilians, as well as the security forces.

Yet, villagers fleeing the violence say rape is a routine weapon in the military's armoury, with the United Nations now deliberating whether the violence amounts to genocide.

GANG RAPE

Whatever the legal definition, 18-year-old Nurshida knows only too well what happened to her.

Speaking to Thomson Reuters Foundation from the relative safety of her camp, Nurshida recalled how her class of 30 was marched in silence to their school last month, held at gunpoint by uniformed soldiers, then manhandled into the main auditorium.

The schoolgirls, she said, cowered as one in a corner; the men - breathing heavily and dripping sweat - occupied another.

The gang rape began immediately.

Fair-skinned Nurshida, with bangles looping her wrist and a loose scarf shrouding her hair, said she was chosen first by the group, six clean-shaven soldiers carrying guns and machetes.

"One of the men held me tightly on the floor. I started screaming, but a second soldier hit me in the face with his hand and undressed me fully. I was silent when they raped me, there was nothing I could do," Nurshida said.

Her two friends were thrown to the floor next. As they were raped, smoke was rising in the distance - her native Naisapru village was on fire, one of many set alight in the exodus.

"All of the schoolgirls were raped and there were loud screams everywhere," said Nurshida, sitting in a mud hut in Bangladesh's Kutupalong camp where she is waiting to register as a refugee.

Authorities say her story fits a horribly familiar pattern.

"The stories we hear point to rape being used strategically as a weapon of war," aid Rashed Hasan, a lieutenant-colonel in the Bangladesh army.

Women of all ages and backgrounds have reported similarly brutal sexual assaults - as well as witnessing family killings, losing children and being forced from their homes.

"Rape is an act of power. It knows no discrimination in terms of age, sex or ethnicity," Saba Zariv of the United Nations Population Fund told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

PREGNANT, RAPED, ABANDONED

At nine-months pregnant, Jannet says she was brutally tortured and raped at her home in Myanmar.

"My husband was killed five days before soldiers attacked our village. Our three children have never been seen again since," she said, cradling five-day-old Fatima in the flimsy makeshift tent she now calls home.

Fatima, who was delivered in a rice field, is her only remaining family member.

Late into her pregnancy, Jannet said she was alone when the army marched into Fakira Bazaar village. While everyone scattered into the jungle, the 22-year-old chose to hide.

"Several soldiers broke the door. They saw that I was pregnant, but they all raped me."

At the end of the day she was left naked, beaten, her children gone.

"I cried and screamed for them, but I still don't know where they are," she said. "I never want to go back to Myanmar... I have lost everything."

Yet, safety is not guaranteed in the chaotic Rohingya refugee camps that are quickly becoming the world's largest.

Parvin, 20, said she has been rejected by her in-laws after soldiers beheaded her husband and raped her while she was five months pregnant.

"They beat me unconscious," she said. "I woke up to an empty village and my in-laws searching for me. I was lying naked on the floor of their house."

The last thing Parvin's mother-in-law did for her was help her wash after the rape.

"They told me they didn't want to take responsibility for me and rejected me."

Now she lives alone in a bamboo house, terrified of men.

"I can never get married again now that I was raped. I have no choice but to raise my baby alone," she said.

"That's all that drives me now. I have lost all else."



Follow Us on Twitter

October 2017 1:56 AMCOXS BAZAR Bangladesh (THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION) Rape being used weapon Rohingya crisis with woman safe from risk sexual attack Myanmars Muslim minority driven homeland according experts field those caught crisis.

Related stories with No Rohingya woman safe as rapists run rampant: Experts

Asia Briefs: Pakistani court indicts ex-PM Nawaz Sharif -World News
Asia Briefs: Pakistani court indicts ex-PM Nawaz Sharif 1 month ago
October 20, 2017 5:00 AMISLAMABAD • A Pakistani anti-corruption court yesterday indicted ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter over allegations linked to the ownership of London properties, pressing charges over accusations that could see
One killed as iconic Yangon hotel goes up in flames -World News
One killed as iconic Yangon hotel goes up in flames 1 month ago
October 20, 2017 5:00 AMA Japanese businessman was killed when a fire tore through a luxury teak-wood hotel in Myanmar's largest city Yangon yesterday, destroying an iconic resort popular with foreign visitors.
Contrasting profiles of two local party chiefs emerge in meetings -World News
Contrasting profiles of two local party chiefs emerge in meetings 1 month ago
October 20, 2017 5:00 AMOne local party chief gave a ringing speech at the start and was in control throughout. Another kept quiet most of the time.
'Not true' anti-graft drive led to 'do-nothing officials' -World News
'Not true' anti-graft drive led to 'do-nothing officials' 1 month ago
October 20, 2017 5:00 AMThe Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has defended itself against criticism that its anti-corruption campaign has led to inaction among civil servants and party officials afraid to get into trouble.
Top Malaysian terrorist killed in Marawi clash -World News
Top Malaysian terrorist killed in Marawi clash 1 month ago
October 20, 2017 5:00 AMPresident Rodrigo Duterte said last night a top Malaysian militant tipped to become the point man of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group in South-east Asia was killed in overnight skirmishes in Marawi city.
China central bank chief warns of asset bubbles, debt risk -World News
China central bank chief warns of asset bubbles, debt risk 1 month ago
October 20, 2017 5:00 AMChina's central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan has warned of asset bubbles and debt risk in the corporate and household sectors in the world's No. 2 economy.
China's economy shows strong momentum -World News
China's economy shows strong momentum 1 month ago
October 20, 2017 5:00 AMBEIJING • China's economic growth looks set to accelerate for the first time in seven years this year, after hardly skipping a beat in the third quarter, but efforts to cut risks in property and debt are beginning to weigh on par
Witness at hearing tells of pastor's abduction -World News
Witness at hearing tells of pastor's abduction 1 month ago
October 20, 2017 5:00 AMKUALA LUMPUR • A witness in a public hearing on the case of a missing Malaysian pastor who was abducted in February said he had "stumbled" upon the incident while he and a friend were driving to a crematorium on Feb 13.
Jokowi not ready to talk of re-election -World News
Jokowi not ready to talk of re-election 1 month ago
October 20, 2017 5:00 AMTomorrow marks Indonesian President Joko Widodo's fourth year in office, but the popular leader - who succeeded in pushing for infrastructure development, and reforms in healthcare and education, as well as fighting corruption - re
Rush Prep Unreleased Songs for 'A Farewell to Kings' Reissue -World News
Rush Prep Unreleased Songs for 'A Farewell to Kings' Reissue 1 month ago
Rush will unearth unreleased live tracks for the 40th anniversary reissue of 'A Farewell to Kings.'
North Korea close to nuke that could hit US, says CIA chief Mike Pompeo -World News
North Korea close to nuke that could hit US, says CIA chief Mike Pompeo 1 month ago
October 20, 2017 5:15 AMThe United States should assume Kim Jong Un's regime is "on the cusp" of getting a nuclear missile capable of striking US targets and work to prevent this, the head of the CIA said on Thursday.
Palace Teases Special CIROC Collaboration for New Skatepark -World News
Palace Teases Special CIROC Collaboration for New Skatepark 1 month ago
In anticipation of its MWADLANDS skatepark opening, Palace unveils a remarkable collaboration with CIROC. The duo has recently taken to their respective Instagram accounts to announce the special partnership. The teaser images show white Palace branding