Rohingya girls being raped while fleeing genocide in Myanmar

Rohingya Muslims, who recently crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, wait for their turn to receive food aid near Balukhali refugee camp, Bangladesh.

Dozens of Rohingya Muslim girls under the age of ten have been sexually assaulted while fleeing the ongoing genocide by the Myanmar army, a rights group has confirmed.

“Médecins Sans Frontières” (MSF) reported that Rohingya girls, who have successfully escaped violence in Myanmar, are receiving treatment for rape in refugee camps on the Bangladesh border.

The organisation pointed out that more than half the girls it has treated after sexual assaults are under the age of 18.

Of the survivors who come to the clinic for treatment relating to rape, “about 50% are aged 18 or under, including one girl who was nine years old and several others under the age of 10”, an MSF spokesperson told The Guardian.

“Women and girls often don’t seek medical care for sexual violence due to the stigma, shame and fear of being blamed for what’s happened to them,” said Aerlyn Pfeil, an MSF midwife focusing on support for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in Cox’s Bazaar.

In the last week, a nine-year-old girl was among the new arrivals who received medical treatment after being raped, as military violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar continues.

According to another midwife working in the camps, who requested not to be named because of patient privacy, most cases she has dealt with involve the army gathering all the women and girls in a village in one place and picking “the most beautiful” female to be taken away and raped, either by individual soldiers or groups.

She said: “A lot of them are just 12 or 13 years old.”

One recent case she dealt with involved a child under 10 with severe bleeding who had been raped by three soldiers.

Rohingya refugees have repeatedly described incidents of gang rape and sexual assaults by the Myanmar army during military operations, which the United Nations said amounts to ethnic cleansing.

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