The team was given a rare opportunity to interview a human trafficker, he stated that he would often sell a dream of a better life to families for their children which would seal the deal. There is a demand for virgin girls which means the price paid by clients would be higher providing more of an incentive for traffickers to target younger girls. He also stated that Rohingya women are known to be naïve, out of desperation they will trust anyone who offers them jobs and security.
The husbands of many of women were savagely executed in Myanmar which means there are no male support and because of poverty women get desperate. This leaves women in a vulnerable state when they go out looking for work, they are often lured in to the sex industry with the promise of a job.
Sharifa, (not her real name) was a victim, Sharifa’s husband was killed whilst trying to escape the violence in Myanmar. She has two young children, she mentioned there are days when they do not eat. Sharifa was promised a job as a cleaner in a hotel by a friend, when she arrived on her first day ready for work, she was shown a room to clean, once she entered the room she was beaten and locked up. She was then greeted by strangers and told to have sex with them, if she declined, she would be beaten, drugged and her children’s lives threatened. Sharifa finally managed to escape one day from the hotel when the door was left open, she said, “I ran and ran with tears rolling down my face and I did not look back,” she managed to make her way back to the camp but even this journey was a blur. Sharifa stated that being forced to have sex with different men has mentally and physically broken her, she said she feels a lot of guilt and no matter how much she bathes she still feels unclean. This experience has left Sharifa traumatised, unable to display emotions. She mentioned this experience runs through her mind every minute of the day, leaving her unable to function to live her daily life.
Solving the problem
Forgotten Women is working closely with Rohingya women in Ukhiya, Cox Bazar to tackle the trafficking crisis, an Anti-Trafficking Centre is well on its way to be built. This centre will offer women across the camp a safe space and provide the following:
– Female outreach workers to visit women in the camps
– Referral service
– Strong community support as women are very isolated
– On-site support services for the many women who have fallen victim to traffickers
– Education on prevention
– We are also developing workshops for women to alleviate stress and anxiety
– Sanitation facilities for women only
“When we target women, we pick the poorest ones who are pretty as it makes our job easier, we give them gifts and attention, we tell her we can get her a job after which we will do what we need to do.” Undisclosed, Sex Trafficker
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