Doctors Worldwide

Sexual Violence in Myanmar

Our role in providing low cost, high impact healthcare to communities in need.

   The Rohingya are a predominantly Muslim Indo-Aryan ethnic group and have been subjected to terror and persecution since their citizenship was revoked by the Burmese government in 1982. Now, they are classified as ‘Bengalis,’ and forced to prove at least sixty years of genetic background to be able to stay in Myanmar. Since then, the Rohingya have been exposed to a campaign of sexual violence, land confiscation and extrajudicial killings by the military wing of Myanmar’s government, the Tatmadaw.

Since 2015, an estimated 800,000 – 1,100,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to South-Eastern Bangladesh alone, and many more to countries sharing a border with Northern Myanmar.

   In the states of Rakhine, Kachine, and Shan, the Tatmadaw have continued to shield their soldiers from international outcry against the war crimes they’ve inflicted upon the Rohingya people, and stories of rape, abuse, and murder are common amongst the displaced communities. Human rights officials and the United Nations have since officially recognised the crisis as Ethnic Cleansing, and the 2007 Peace Research Report commented that rape and sexual violence are classed as forms of torture in international humanitarian law.

   This influx of oppressed refugees flooding into Bangladesh has put an enormous strain on the Bangladeshi government’s crisis response agencies, and helping the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazaar is an ever increasingly difficult task due to the lack of resources and healthcare professionals available to the Rohingya. Doctors Worldwide seek to serve these communities by enabling them to have access to quality healthcare, which is not something that should be reserved for the privileged. The high number of victims who have been subjected to sexual violence requires not only immediate treatment, but they require a level of aftercare that the local facilities are desperately struggling to provide. Simply put, they are fit to bursting.

   Through hard work and donations, 112 humanitarian agencies have been able to provide the displaced Rohingya communities with the basic needs required for survival, such as water, food, shelter and medical attention. However, there are still thousands of refugees living in the Raja Palong and Ratna Palong unions in Bangladesh who don’t have access to basic healthcare facilities. We intend to make high-impact healthcare a reality for them and many others.

   Already, we’ve made a poignant difference to the futures of these people’s health. An assessment of 33 health facilities and clinics between February 2018 and September 2018 allowed us to identify the key areas in which these services were lacking. In one report, a Bangladeshi clinic doctor mentioned that the sheer quantity of patients who required healthcare wasn’t allowing him to allocate the correct amount of time and attention required for the vast number of women suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder relating to sexual violence that had been inflicted upon them. Since our operations in July, we equipped and trained 32 Rohingya Mahji’s, Imams and community leaders with the knowledge and equipment to respond to emergency medical situations including first aid, which would serve up to 30,000 refugees and help ease some of the pressure from the clinics and healthcare facilities.

   As of July 2018, Doctors Worldwide trained a further 44 Bangladeshi doctors to serve the refugee communities, with another prospective 60 doctors on the way. We’ve also provided 78 days of teaching sessions over 26 weeks and 576 hours of clinical shadowing within pre-established healthcare centres, helping deliver 7 humanitarian medicine modules developed by over 40 physicians and healthcare practitioners within Doctors Worldwide from across the world. As a result, over 4,400 Rohingya refugees are receiving better healthcare every single month. The training programme [named as the Post Graduate Fellowship in Refugee & Migrant Health, PGF]  allows volunteers like you to provide life-changing healthcare in some of the worst humanitarian crisis zones across the world. If you would like to get involved, click here.

   We believe that quality healthcare gives these communities access to healthier and happier futures, and we cannot continue to do so without your support. To find out how you can volunteer, click here. You can also donate at doctorsworldwide.org/donate.

Save a Life. Change a Life.

Nathan Hill


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