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 October 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 October 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.The Amnesty International's report presents evidence that the Myanmar military has killed at least hundreds of Rohingya women, men, and children, raped and perpetrated other forms of sexual violence on Rohingya women and girls, and carried out organized, targeted burning of entire Rohingya villages. Myanmar rejects accusations of ethnic cleansing and has labeled the Rohingya militants who launched the attacks as terrorists. U.N. aid agencies have not had access to the shrinking Rohingya population in Rakhine state and the United Nations says Rohingya there now face a "desperate choice whether to stay or go," not only due to the violence but also humanitarian needs.
Buddhist-majority Myanmar has denied citizenship for the Rohingya since 1982 and excludes them from the 135 ethnic groups officially recognized, which effectively renders them stateless. They have long faced discrimination and persecution with many Buddhists in Myanmar calling them "Bengalis" and saying they migrated illegally from Bangladesh, even though they have lived in the country for generations.