Friday, 19 July 2019

Maungdaw, Arakan State: Female travelers, particularly Rohingya women, are facing harassment as they attempt to travel to Bangladesh with officially border passes at Maungdaw exit and entry points, said a regular border pass trader from Maungdaw.

“The staffs at the exit and entry points are searching the female travelers’ bodies, and even forcing them to remove their undergarments, which is very uncomfortable for the females. The officers then order the women to walk around.”

“This is only for Rohingya females, not for Rakhine females.”

Rohingya females often go to Bangladesh for medical treatment, and also for business. However, Rakhine females usually go to Bangladesh exclusively for business proposes. The authorities search the bodies of females who are traveling for medical treatment, said an aide of the exit and entry point officials.

“In Maungdaw, there are no facilities for medical treatment, and the Rohingya are not allowed to travel to Akyab (Sittwe) where medical facilities are available. So, the Rohingya community must try to get border passes by using money to get them. Members of the community are only given seven-day passes. Sometimes, a patient has to stay more than seven days. In this situation, the patient has to pay 1000 kyats per day extra at the exit and entry point.”

Recently, Maungdaw has become a drug transit point, and most officials with their collaborators transport drugs from this border point. Rohingya and Rakhine community members who are involved with transporting drugs—mostly Yaba methamphetamine pills—are using this point. The drug dealers are using drug peddlers to carry their drugs to Bangladesh. Most of the peddlers are females, said a drug dealer from Maungdaw.

“But the officers at the exit and entry point are searching Rohingya females who are going for medical treatment to Bangladesh.”

“The officers are trying to show that they are searching for drugs from travelers. They don’t want to search the real drug traffickers as they receive their bribes from drug dealers.”