FMWC Statement of Support for Rohingya Women and Girl Refugees

Reading time: 2:00 min

The Federation of Medical Women of Canada's (FMWC’s) Women, Peace and Security Committee adds their support to the NGO statement that was released on April 26, 2018 regarding the sexual and reproductive rights of Rohingya women and girls displaced due to conflict in advance of the UN Security Council’s Mission to Myanmar, Bangladesh.

Approximately 60% of the almost 750,000 Rohingya refugees are women and girls that have crossed the border into Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh in the wake of violence and widespread human rights abuses in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.1,2 The crisis situation disproportionately affects women and girls given the widespread threat and use of sexual violence against them in Rakhine state as part of the campaign of ethnic cleansing undertaken by the Myanmar Armed Forces from October 2016 and August 2017.3

"A woman reacts as Rohingya refugees wait to receive aid in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, September 21, 2017.  REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton/File Photo. Source: Huffington Post, 2017's Rohingya Crisis in Photos, December 26, 2017

The need for sexual and reproductive health services is critical given the hundreds of rape cases that have been reported by humanitarian agencies in Bangladesh refugee camps alone, which have resulted in pregnancy for many women. The limited access to crucial and life-saving sexual and reproductive health services, including safe abortion care, post-abortion care and counselling for survivors of rape in armed conflict, entails widespread violations of the sexual and reproductive rights of the displaced Rohingya women.1

The FMWC’s Women, Peace and Security Committee, along with CARE, Center for Reproductive Rights, IPAS and Women’s Refugee Commission endorse the following statement by the NGO:

“The Government of Bangladesh, relevant UN agencies, and humanitarian organizations should work together to:

  1. Ensure the availability of sexual and reproductive health services including obstetric, prenatal, and post-natal care; contraceptive information and services, including emergency contraception; and safe abortion services and menstrual regulation, including for victims of rape and sexual violence and married girls.
  2. Ensure participation of Rohingya women and girls in the process of development and implementation of programs, including sexual and reproductive health services, and set up clear monitoring mechanisms to ensure access to, and quality of, services.
  3. Identify and address barriers, both policy and systemic, in access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services and suggest concrete recommendations to overcome these, including
    1. modifying policies that prevent health personnel from providing a complete range of contraceptives such as compulsory registration in camps for accessing long acting contraception and allowing non-government trained health personnel to provide this service.
    2. liberalizing restrictive national legal provisions that prevent access to abortion.
  4. Ensure the quality of services and adherence to standards, including local staff training and capacity building, supervision and mentoring.
  5. Ensure that refugee camps are safe for women and girls and do not expose them to further risks of gender-based and sexual violence, including child, early, and forced marriage.”

 

Dr. Beverly Johnson MD CCFP
President, Federation of Medical Women of Canada

 

 

References:

  1. Michael Safi, “UN chief and rights groups raise concerns over Rohingya deal,” The Guardian, Jan. 17, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/17/un-chief-and-rights-groups-raise-concerns-over-myanmar-rohingya-deal; UN WOMEN, GENDER BRIEF ON ROHINGYA REFUGEE CRISIS RESPONSE IN BANGLADESH 1 (2018) available at http://www2.unwomen.org/-/media/field%20office%20eseasia/docs/publications/2017/10/gender-advocacy-paper-for-rohingya-refugee-crisis-response-in-bangladesh-r10.pdf?la=en&vs=2521.
  2. INTER AGENCY WORKING GROUP (IAWG), WOMEN AND GIRLS CRITICALLY UNDERSERVED IN ROHINGYA REFUGEE RESPONSE (Feb. 22, 2018), available at https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/IAWG%20Statement%20on%20Rohingya%20Humanitarian%20Response.pdf [hereinafter IAWG, ROHINGYA REFUGEE RESPONSE].
  3. N. S.C. Rep. of the Secretary General on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence, para. 55, U.N. Doc. S/2018/250 (23 Mar 2018) [hereinafter U.N. S.C. Rep. of the SG on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence 2018].