At least 50 per cent of Rohigya women and 75 per cent of adolescent girls who took shelter in camps in Cox’s Bazaar get no facilities to manage their periods, including female-only place to wash sanitary clothes without embarrassment, says an Oxfam report released Tuesday.
Over 50 per cent of women surveyed by Oxfam and partner agencies said they don’t feel safe or comfortable going to collect water or using toilets and shower cubicles, many of which have no roofs and lockable doors, says the report.
As a result, women said they avoid eating or drinking water to be able to go to toilets less frequently.
Unable to relieve themselves properly they suffer abdominal pain and infections.
The use of unhygienic sanitary cloths and resorting to defecation near their tents increases the risk of outbreak of diseases, says the report.
Oxfam unveiled the report at a function in the capital marking one year of the Rohingya crisis.
The report said that poor facilities also increased the risk of sexual abuse and harassment as hundreds of incidents of gender-based violence are reported each week.
The Oxfam report says that single mothers whose husbands are missing or dead head up one in six families in the Rohingaya camps.
They face particular problems, having to take on public roles that challenge cultural and religious assumptions about women’s place in society, it said.
Oxfam’s advocacy manager in Cox’s Bazar, Dorothy Sang, said, ‘The breakneck speed at which the Rohingya refugee crisis unfolded meant that many emergency facilities were installed in a rush and women’s specific needs were not considered.’
‘Women and girls are now paying the price in terms of their wellbeing and safety,’ she added.
‘This needs to be rectified urgently with substantial sums set aside to support and protect Rohingya women, such as lighting to improve safety, toilets and washrooms that provide privacy, and extra assistance for the most vulnerable,’ said Dorothy.
Oxfam said currently there is no standalone budget for meeting women’s specific needs in the overall emergency response to the Rohingya crisis.
It called for setting aside 15 per cent of new funding for humanitarian programmes designed to better support women and girls.
Oxfam recommended allocation of $72 million of the half of billion dollars recently committed by World Bank for the Rohingya crisis.
Speaking as chief guest at launching the report, sate minister for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam said the government recognizes the especial needs of women and children and has provided customized humanitarian support for them, including health supports to the pregnant Rohingya women, children and the newborns, which were not enough for the 1.1 million Rohingyas living in the camps.
‘Bangladesh believes the problems of Rohingya women and girls need to be resolved permanently and sustainably,’ he said, adding, ‘We would request the international partners to intensify their campaign for a durable solution to the Rohingya crisis.’
He said the Myanmar authorities must demonstrate strong political will and take visible action to address the discrimination against the Rohingyas. ‘Our past experience suggest that Myanmar would not fulfill its obligation unless pressurized by the international community,’ Shahriar said.