Background Since the late 1970’s, Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh had an influx of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar in different phases. Cox’s Bazar is currently hosting 200,000–500,000 undocumented Myanmar nationals (UMNs), either in cluster settlements or within the host community. The migrants have placed an extra burden on the existing health, water, sanitation and social services. Anecdotal information suggests that women and adolescent girls are at increased risk of domestic violence and sexual abuse. A study was carried out to explore the situation of sexual and gender based violence and the level of awareness about the available support services among the Rohingya migrants.
Methods A qualitative study was carried out in 2015 to explore sexual and gender based violence and context where UMNs live and how social norms, ethnicity, power or politics influence the situation. Eight FGDs with men, women,adolescent boys and girls were conducted. The interviews were audio-taped and transcribed. ATLAS ti software was used and thematic analysis was done.
Results The respondents reported that domestic violence (beating wives) was the most common form of violence. They added that there was always a “tension” between the Rohingyas and the host community, and the Bengalis always teased, threatened and sometimes assaulted them physically. The women and adolescent-girl respondents narrated that they were often teased or sexually harassed by the host community men particularly during collecting water from a distant location. The UMN respondents complained they did not get any justice from the local administration when they became victims of violence. It was revealed that the both male and female respondents were not much aware about the support service available for sexual and gender based violence.
Conclusions The study revealed that the UMNs particularly females were the victims of sexual and gender based violence and they were not aware of the available support services.
- sexual and gender based violence
- Rohingya migrants
- undocumented Myanmar nationals