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Rohingya girls face unique struggles in Balukhali camp.

Rohingya girls speak out

Rohingya girls tell us their hopes, fears and needs.

Almost a million Rohingya people have been forced to flee violence and persecution in Myanmar. Half of them are children. These refugees now live in camps in Cox’s Bazar in neighbouring Bangladesh.

Conditions in the camp are poor. Shelters are described as sweltering, and often girls are not allowed or don't feel able to leave them for safety reasons.

Despite the number of adolescent girls affected by this crisis, it is rare that their specific needs are identified or addressed. Plan International has made an attempt to rectify this, by talking to girls and listening to their suggestions for improving conditions in the camp.

Here's what they told us.

Girls want to feel safe.

Girls frequently feel unsafe in the camps. They struggle with everyday activities such as bathing and going to the toilet because of the lack of privacy.

Rekha, 17, told us how she feels as a girl in the camp.

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In emergency situations, girls have unique needs that are often overlooked. Girls who have limited access to food and water are even less likely to be able to manage their periods in a dignified and healthy way.

Girls want freedom from isolation.

Parents in the camp say they worry more about the daughters’ safety. It’s clear that pre-existing ideas about gender roles play a part in the decision to keep their daughters at home.

Over 75% of girls we interviewed reported having no ability to make decisions about their own lives. Many expressed a desire for greater freedom.

Girls want an education.

Only 28% of girls interviewed reported attending schooling of any kind, yet girls of all ages expressed a desire to study and disappointment that their current situation prevents study. For Rohingya girls, education is a way to improve both their present lives and their future opportunities.

Despite these concerns, girls reported feeling safer than they did in Myanmar where the threat of violence and persecution was even greater. Almost two-thirds of girls said they feel OK or happy most days.

“We were afraid of the police and military in Burma. We did not feel safe there because they beat us and penalised us if we used to move in the night time. But we are not afraid here,” said one 16-year-old girl interviewed.

Rohingya girls have spoken. These are their needs.

Rohingya girls have expressed a need for great safety and freedom. Safe spaces are needed in the camp so girls can leave the sweltering tents and access proper sanitation facilities without feeling at risk.

Girls have also expressed a desire to access education. It’s vital that Rohingya girls' prospects are not further hindered by a lack of opportunity to study and build their skills.

Girls in emergency situations deserve to feel safe and have a right to education just like any other young person.

Rohingya girls told us their experiences and their needs.

Learn more about Rohingya girls' hopes, fears and needs in our research report.

Read the full report

Read the summary report

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