In Myanmar, an ethnic cleansing has been taking place. At the center of these heinous crimes are the Rohingya people, a Muslim based minority in the country who have been seen as outcasts and aren’t given many basic rights including voting. Over the past few years, tensions have been rising as foreign public officials and the U.N. condemn the country for the horrible acts being perpetrated against the Rohingya. The Rohingya face burnings of their villages and homes, genocide, and brutal rapes of girls and women.
Hundreds of thousands are fleeing Myanmar to refugee camps in Malaysia. As this exodus continues further evil arise, including the forced marriages of women and young girls.
This startling report goes on to describe that smugglers and traffickers take advantage of the need for assistance in fleeing the atrocities taking place, to force girls “14 to 18” into marriages. Some marriages although arranged by families, have also been conducted through deception by traffickers at the final location of the escape. Many of these young women also report high numbers of abuse from their husbands.
Another story by journalist Kuala Lumpur for Reuters relays the accounts of a then 12 year old child bride, who described how she had been sold by traffickers to her soon to be husband without her knowledge stating, “The (trafficking) agent said I had been sold to a man and I asked, how could do they do that?… My heart was heavy and I was scared.” The young girl went on to explain how her husband, who was over a decade older, was controlling as well as abusive. Child marriage and domestic abuse is not a new evil to the Rohingya, but since they are not seen as citizens with rights in Myanmar, young girls and women are not able to contact authorities when facing abuse.
The sexual abuse, however, has been spiking since the military attacks against the minority people, but leaders in the country such as “Nobel Peace Prize winner and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi,” claim that the ethnic cleansing and sexual abuses brought about by the government is an over exaggerations. World leaders are baffled that the leader who insisted on bringing democracy to the country still has not addressed the abuse of the Rohingya. Countless stories are emerging among the refugee camps about what exactly is happening in their native country, that denies them.
The issue, however, also lies in the lack of coverage of the genocide in Myanmar and the trafficking of Rohingya girls. Every day there are new reports that news does not cover enough. People in the thousands continue to die at the hands of the Myanmar government with no intervention in sight. The United Nations High Commissioner
For Refugees continues to work to provide aid for the Rohingya and are speaking out for more coverage and assistance in the crisis. For certain, countries around the world need to contribute more. But our countries also need to have respect for people of the Muslim faith as well, as Islamophobia is a contributing factor to many hate-related crimes around the globe. Our news organizations, however, are the first step in exposing the horrific nature of what is happening to the people in Myanmar.
If you would like to contribute to the United Nations Refugee Agency, and their efforts to help the Rohingya you can donate here.
Photo via Wikipedia Commons