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Bangladeshi women, center, walk towards newly arrived Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, far right, in Teknaf, Bangladesh, Oct. 2, 2017.
Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP

Rohingya Refugee Women at High Risk of Health Issues, Violence: Oxfam

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Women in refugee camps should have access to clean, safe and private bathing facilities as well as personal hygiene resources. You can join us by taking action here to support the UN’s Global Goal for gender equality.

Oxfam has issued a warning that Rohingya women living in Bangladesh are developing health issues, missing out on aid, and are generally at greater risk of abuse due to unsuitable living conditions in many refugee camps there, according to the organization’s most recent report.

The international agency has called for 15% of new funding to be set aside for programs designed to support women and girls in emergency response — including $72 million of funds recently committed by the World Bank, reported ReliefWeb.

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“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 weren’t considered. Women and girls are now paying the price in terms of their well-being and safety,” said Dorothy Sang, Oxfam’s advocacy manager in Cox’s Bazar, in the report. “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.”

More than one-third of Rohingya women interviewed by Oxfam and partner agencies said they did not feel safe or comfortable going to collect water or using lavatories. To wit, most toilets and shower cubicles lack a roof and a lockable door.

Half the women and three-quarters of adolescent girls surveyed said they didn’t have menstrual hygiene products or a place to safely wash reusable hygiene cloths.

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The struggles these women face have been compounded by the fact that single mothers whose husbands are missing or dead represent one in six families currently living in the Rohingya camps — an uncommon and challenging role in a community that has strict perceptions of where women fit in society.

Oxfam is working to coordinate a host of solutions to the current issues facing women, including solar-powered lights along pathways, portable solar lamps, organizing women’s groups to discuss safety issues, community work to tackle violence against women, and designing new toilet facilities that afford privacy, according to the report.