Rohingya women assaulted in Myanmar as 'instrument of terror,' UN says

Published 31.10.2017 14:56
Updated 31.10.2017 16:36
emAFP Photo/em
AFP Photo

Women and girls have experienced sexual and gender-based violence, perpetrated by both the Myanmar army and by Rakhine locals, according to U.N. Women's latest report.

The Oct. 2017 report titled 'Gender Brief on Rohingya Refugee Crisis Response in Bangladesh' reminded that the violent conflict began in Myanmar's western state of Rakhine in Oct. 2006.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, over 607,000 Rohingya have crossed from Myanmar's western state of Rakhine into Bangladesh, according to the U.N.

The refugees are fleeing a fresh military operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages. According to Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali, around 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown.

"The distressed and traumatized displaced population — approximately 51 per cent of which are women and girls — lives in terrible conditions and lacks adequate food, water, sanitation, medical care and access to their livelihoods and assets," the report said.

It said the situation "disproportionately" affects women, girls and the most "vulnerable and marginalized" Rohingya refugee population groups by reinforcing, perpetuating and exacerbating pre-existing, persistent gender inequalities, gender-based violence and discrimination.

"Many women whose sexual assault resulted in conception are reported to have sought out abortions after arriving in Bangladesh. This is a frightening reminder that sexual and gender-based violence are among the most horrific weapons of war, instruments of terror most often used against women," it added.

The report said about 400,000 refugees need immediate access to water and sanitation. It added 24,000 pregnant and lactating women require maternal health-care support.

Women and children are also at "heightened" risk of becoming victims of human trafficking, sexual abuse or child and forced marriage, it added.

The Rohingya, described by the U.N. as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attacks since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Last October, following attacks on border posts in Rakhine's Maungdaw district, security forces launched a five-month crackdown in which, according to Rohingya groups, around 400 people were killed.

The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings — including of infants and young children — brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel. In a report, U.N. investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

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