Monday, 20 May 2019

Teknaf, Bangladesh: A registered refugee woman from Kutupalong Camp was raped by a gang of local men at about 8 a.m. on March 24 while she was returning to the camp after collecting firewood from a nearby forest, according to a relative of the victim who declined to be named.  

The victim is identified as Rabia Khatun, age 30, wife of the late Hussain, from MRC #42483, Shed #48, Block-B.  She has two sons aged 5 and 8.

Early in the morning of March 24, Rabia accompanied other refugees to a nearby forest to collect firewood. After collecting the wood, she was returning to the refugee camp with other refugees, but suddenly she was abducted up by four local men without the other refugees noticing. She was brought to the deep forest and was gang raped by the men.

After two hours, the other refugees realized that she had disappeared on the way to the camp, so a group of refugees went to the forest to search for the victim. Seeing the refugees approach them, the local goons fled the scene and left the victim. The victim was brought to the camp by the refugees and sent to a clinic for treatment, said a refugee leader from the official camp.

The relatives of the victim informed the UNHCR and the camp authorities of the details of the matter.  Later, the victim was sent to the Ukhiya Police Station by UNHCR staff, and then sent to the local Upazila Health Complex for further treatment. The victim continues to receive medical treatment at the health complex.

Refugees have to pay 100 taka per person per week for the right to collect firewood from the forest to a local group. The group consists of 30 youths from Modor Sara Para (village) and Palia Para (village). The group is led by one local youth named Abdul Gaffur, age 30. Rabia Khatun was raped by members of this local group.

Over view of Kutupalong makeshift camp

Many rape cases occur in the camp, with some going unreported. Often rape cases in Kutupalong Camp are not exposed as officials have no capacity to appraise the matter, said another refugee leader who prefers not to be named.  

For instance, on March 13, another refugee woman from Kutupalong Camp was raped by a local youth named Gaffar, age 25, from Balu Khali Village, while the victim was returning to the camp after collecting firewood from the forest. The rapist was severely beaten by the refugees.  At least three-to-four rape cases occur in Kutupalong Refugee Camp per month.

Most of the women who are victims of rape are widows from the unofficial refugee camp who have no income to help their family members, so they go to the forest to collect firewood. After selling the wood, they buy rice, salt, oil, and other necessary things with the small profits. They do not receive any rations from any quarter, said a refugee elder from Kutupalong camp.