Protection Against Violence of Women and Children in Refugee Camps

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Refugees are those who, taken out of their own country forcibly prior to reasons such as for religion or ethnic cleansing. Bangladesh has been on the receiving end of refugees from a long time. However, since past 2 years the amount increased in unbelievable number. The government of Bangladesh displayed enough generosity providing shelter to the Rohingya from Myanmar. Nevertheless, Myanmar showed no interest to take back the refuges. According to Fox News, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has stated for a peaceful solution for the 1.1 million refugees crisis in Bangladesh. Moreover, pointed out Myanmar for the genocide, which lurked the refugees to settle in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The rohingyas might have found a temporary settlement but internal and well as external problems surround them. In Bangladesh, along with citizens the refuges too face problems especially women and children. The outside world still in 2019 had been not a safe place for women and children, the refugee camp proved no different. Even inside the camp, advantage of their vulnerability taken. This paper would discuss the issue of protection of women and children from violence in the refugee camps.

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The camps may have been a place for the refugees to settle but still an unsafe one, especially for the women and children. They are the ones easy to target and cause harm for example: rape, sex trafficking, child trafficking etc. Along with this violence, the most common type of violence they face every day is gender-based violence. The spreading of patriarchal dominance has been all over the place including the camps. The women often beaten by the male figures of the family unable to prevent because in Bangladesh domestic violence not considered as a crime and the government are less bothered to discuss the issue. The female citizens who are the victims of the hideous crime are not being to open up or receive justice, it is impossible to think a woman in a refugee camp will be able to prevent strongly. With domestic violence comes rape and sexual assault, which unfortunately should never be but has become a part of their life. According to a report by UNHCR, “Refugees report that male family members have been falsely accused and detained to enable others to abuse their female daughters and/or wives and force them into marriages against their will. Rape and sexual abuse of women in detention is also a prevalent protection problem” (Bangladesh: Analysis of Gaps in the Protection of Rohingya Refugees, 21). Therefore, there is zero safety for women who are suffering and becoming a victim of thousand lustful male gazes. Adding to it, even sometimes to take revenge on male members, women are the means to fulfill that revenge through rape and kidnapping. It can be seen clearly that in every situation women are being used as tool as they are thought weak and vulnerable.

However, the people who are responsible to ensure safety are the ones responsible of the crimes. One of the reasons is lack of humanitarian assistance, creating scopes to earn profit of sexual labor especially local police or even the camp personnel. As they have the higher power, women are bound to have survival sex or else might end up in jail with a false accuse. Not afforded to protection from rape and sexual abuse leads to pregnancy but most dangerously to HIV/AIDS, this increases health issues in the camps.

Children are another sector, open to violence and crimes due to unhealthy and unsafe environment. According to the UNHCR report. Children and adolescents (under the age of 18) comprise 56% of the total refugee population in the camps. A relatively significant number of them (2,461 as of January 2007) are not registered as many were born after the 1992 registration or to unregistered parents living in the camps. Although recently profiled by UNHCR, these children have not yet been formally recognised by the GoB (21)

As the children are not registered, are deprived of every single facilities camp authorities have to offer especially food. Firstly the children are deprived are of a healthy surrounding but now addition to that is food which leads to massive malnutrition. Along with food, other necessities such as education snatched away from them. Without proper education, children easily manipulated to join in gangs who are engaged in serious crimes, as they are unaware of the good and bad. Moreover, with food and education, mental and physical healths are also important which they will receive through outdoor activities. It will help them to develop skills, which needed in life such as communication skills, sportsmen spirit etc. With education, affiliated with sports is necessary for mental growth. On the other hand, it might help them divert their little fragile minds engaging in productive work rather than exploited in crime world. However, stating that, areas for productive practice unfortunately is less and exploitation more. According to an article by UNICEF, “Older children and adolescents who are deprived of opportunities to learn or make a living are at real risk of becoming a “lost generation”, ready prey to traffickers and those who would exploit them for political or other ends (Rohingya Crisis). Not only small children but also the older ones are made target for trafficking such as sex trafficking, organ trafficking, females in prostitution etc. The older children are easier to catch as victims to exploit via money. They are brainwashed with thousand opportunities and handsome amount of money through crimes, which might solve their problems and provide a good life. Nevertheless, in reality, they step on traps from which are not able to get themselves out easily without losing their lives. In addition, this unfortunate situation displays a negative picture of the host country. In areas like refugee camps, one of the solutions could be more of humanitarian assistance with strong and honest motive. People representing the government mechanism strictly systemized, as mostly they are ones earning profits illegally, and if caught punished severely. Organizations holding different events and permanent systems for health, education, activities for life skills etc should be on regular basis with having strong accountable policies.

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