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Young Rohingya Girls - Voices, Concerns and Aspirations

Sarika Gulati | Bangladesh

Eighteen-year-old Yasmin was one month pregnant when she fled violence in Myanmar. She safely delivered her first child in a Primary Health Centre in Cox's Bazar. Denial of any health services in Myanmar had made her skeptical of doctors and stories of both pregnant mother and child being killed in health centres in Myanmar are common in the community. She had no faith in any doctor or health services. Local health workers helped her through pregnancy and develop faith in health centers.

Living on aid, Yasmin now remains preoccupied with thought of food for the baby, clothes for the baby, if he will ever get a school here; neither do I own land or a house here. Kyrul Amin, 24, her husband echoes similar sentiments. ‘Now we have responsibility of a child. If I am able to get a sewing machine, perhaps I can stitch clothes and earn some money,’ says Yasmin with hope.

After every visit, I often ask myself how long will it take to heal and rebuild hope. It’s been a year now to the Rohingya Refugee Crisis.

In this protracted humanitarian crisis, adolescent Rohingya girls are one of the greatest victims. Most of them have witnessed unimaginable violence, death, destruction and hunger and are facing malnutrition, trauma and potential disease outbreak.

Adolescent girls have become more vulnerable to child marriage, trafficking, domestic violence, sexual abuse and deep-rooted gender bias. Most girls never or rarely leave their bamboo huts.They spend almost every hour of every day inside their sweltering huts cooking, cleaning or attending to children. A rare few have stepped out to support their families. Most families still don’t have enough to eat.

Inspite of the difficulties they face, the girls demonstrate unwavering resilience, courage and care that their communities need in this long drawn crisis. It is pertinent that their vulnerabilities, voices, concerns, isolation, fear, homelessness and aspirations are heard.They long to go to school, feel secure, heal and rebuild their lives.

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