‘I wasn’t willing’

Investigation reveals how sex traffickers target young Rohingya refugee girls

Young Rohingya girls forced into prostitution by sex traffickers. (BBC News/YouTube)

A BBC News investigation has revealed an even darker side to the already dire humanitarian crisis unfolding in Bangladesh. The investigation found that young Rohingya girls living in refugee camps in Bangladesh are being targeted en-masse by sex traffickers who try to force them into lives of prostitution. A BBC team working alongside the anti-sex trafficking group Foundation Sentinel was able to locate local pimps who offered young Rohingya girls for sex within 48 hours of the team’s arrival in the coastal city of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. The investigators also spoke with local Rohingya girls who described being deceived and coerced into prostitution by sex traffickers, as well as the harsh realities of refugee life that led some Rohingya girls to continue a life of prostitution by their own volition.

A 14-year-old girl identified as Anwara, whose family was killed in Myanmar, described being picked up by the side of the road in Bangladesh by a van full of women. She was told that she was being taken to safety, but instead found herself in the nearest city — Cox’s Bazar

“Not long after that they brought two boys to me. They showed me a knife and punched me in my tummy and beat me because I wasn’t cooperating. Then the boys raped me. I wasn’t willing to have sex but they kept going,” she told BBC News.

Another 13-year-old victim said that her family had been struggling to subsist in a refugee camp when they were approached by a woman from the Rohingya community. The woman told the family that if they let the girl work for her in Cox’s Bazar, she’d be able to pay the family so that they could afford enough food to survive.

“When we got there, she put me in a hotel in the morning,” the girl said. “By the afternoon, a boy was put in my room. He beat me and raped me. I asked the woman why I should do this. She told me, ‘If you don’t do this, I will kill you.’”

While in Cox’s Bazar, the BBC team ran a sting operation in conjunction with police that managed to rescue two young Rohingya sex workers — one of whom said she was just 15 years old. The 15-year-old was put into social care, but the other, who claimed to be 21, refused, explaining that without the sex work her family would starve.

Speaking with The BBC, girls spoke about how traffickers deceived families in the camps by offering fake “jobs” for their daughters, as well as the harsh realities that await the young girls once they’re pushed into prostitution.

Watch video of The BBC’s investigation below.

Read the full story at BBC News.

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