The Rohingya are a particularly marginalized community that hail from Myanmar. They have not been given citizenship rights in Myanmar and have been systematically persecuted. The recent wave of violence in August 2017 triggered the largest and fastest wave of influx of Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh. Since then, it is estimated that north of 800,000 refugees have crossed the Myanmar-Bangladesh border and settled in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.
Kutupalong in Cox’s Bazar houses more than 800,000 refugees and is the largest refugee camp in the world. There are multiple aid organizations providing much needed relief to this highly traumatized and persecuted population.
I was working with UNICEF and looking specifically at issues of gender based violence (GBV ) and child protection. My work involved field visits to understand the realities faced by women and children in the camps to try and figure out better programming opportunities for UNICEF. The Rohingya are a deeply conservative and religious society with men being the main power holders in the family. Any discussion on reducing gender based violence is incomplete without buy-in from Rohingya men. Hence, a lot of my work also looked at ways in which men can become champions of preventing GBV and move away from their current role as perpetrators.