The plight of Rohingya who risked their lives fleeing the government-sanctioned persecution in Myanmar is far from over even when they manage to reach the shores of the neighboring Bangladesh, which has set up one of the world’s largest refugee camps for the incoming Muslim minority.
Young Rohingya girls who manage to escape violence and rape and make it to the camps with their families face another horror waiting for them: human traffickers. These men and women either abduct, purchase or lure young girls before selling them off into sex slavery or to be domestic maids or child brides.
Unfortunately, much has been said and written about the prevalence of such incidents in the refugee camps but thus far little to none has been done to tackle this epidemic.
Recently, a Rohingya refugee, Ali Akbar, told the ABC about the horror his family went through after discovering their 13-year-old daughter had gone missing after being separated from the group while crossing the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh.
They later found out the girl, Tasmin, was abducted by a Rohingya woman, who had then sold her to someone in the capital city of Dhaka.
“We came to know that a woman took her away to Dhaka,” Akbar explained. “We heard from many sources that she was a Rohingya woman, not a Bangladeshi.”
A few months later, he received a call on his mobile phone from Tasmin, who claimed she was working as a maid and was unable to escape.
However, the heartbreaking story took an even more ominous turn.
“They demanded another girl to give them,” Akbar said of the traffickers who had his daughter.”If I can give another girl for one month they will set free my daughter in six months.”
Not seeing any other option to free his daughter, the grieving father somehow convinced another man named Farim Farim Alam, a friend from his village, to give away his 12-year-old daughter to the same traffickers, thinking they would eventually return the two girls, as promised.
But that never happened.
“Her mother is crying all the time,” said Alam. “I gave my daughter because I wanted to get back his daughter.”
As the Al Jazeera reported, trafficking rings have been working in the Rohingya camps for years. However, the recent influx of refugees has made the situation even worse.
“We sit by the road and the men come to us. They ask if we can get the helpless type of people here. Families are ready to provide girls because they don't have enough food” a trafficker told the publication on condition of anonymity. “The men ask me for girls around 12-14 years old. They tell me they have difficulty with domestic work at their homes. They say they need someone to cook for them.”
Thumbnail / Banner : Reuters, Mohammad Ponir Hossain