Is sex trade thriving in Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh?
Dhaka, Oct 28: There seems to be no end to the exodus of Rohingyas from violence-hit Rakhine State in Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh.
An estimated 604,000 Rohingyas have taken shelter in refugee camps in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar district in recent times since violence broke out in Rakhine State on August 25.
Before the current influx of refugees to Bangladesh, already more than 300,000 Rohingyas have been staying in various refugee camps in the country. They are again those Rohingya refugees who had fled Myanmar because of violence and persecution unleashed against them in their homeland in the past.
In these cramped and unhygienic refugee camps, men, women and children jostle for space, food and water. The distressing situation of the refugees is enough to churn your stomach. There is probably no need to mention that poverty in its worst form has taken shelter in these refugee camps.
So, the inmates of camps are ready to take up any jobs to earn a few bucks to survive the catastrophe. Now, reports indicate that a "clandestine sex trade industry is booming in Bangladesh's Rohingya refugee camps".
According to a report by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, in Kutupalong in Cox's Bazaar district, the biggest camp in Bangladesh, the sex industry is thriving. "Many of the sex workers are longer term residents of the Bangladeshi camps, but the influx of tens of thousands more vulnerable women and girls is expected to fuel the trade," stated the report by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"At least 500 Rohingya prostitutes live in Kutupalong," a woman identified as Noor, who works as a fixer, was quoted as saying in the report of the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The report indicated that as thousands of new women and girls have arrived in these camps, thus it might further give a boost to the sex trade industry.
"Recruiters now have their eyes set on the newcomers," Noor said.
However, agencies of the United Nations (UN) say they have no figures on the numbers of sex workers in the camps to make public.
"It's hard to come by numbers and we don't collect data on how many sex workers are in the camps," Saba Zariv, an expert on gender-based violence at the UN's population agency, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
According to a recent report by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), because of the chaotic, unorganised camps, children and youths could fall prey to traffickers and people are looking to exploit and manipulate them.