Robbers and rapists lie in wait for refugees at the remote island of Shahpuri Deep
Burma Times Desk Report: February 19, 2015
The Bay of Bengal pounds the walls of this island located at the frontlines of Bangladesh’s never ending war against nature. The island is also at the frontlines of the survival struggle for some of the most persecuted human beings on this planet.
Religious clerics however say that the sea is breaking this place so swiftly because this is an island of sin where countless Arakanese Muslim women have been raped and dishonoured. For many a Muslim woman fleeing the carnal desires of bloodthirsty Rakhine mobs and security forces, the Shahpuri Deep is their first vision of a safer world in one of the world’s biggest Muslim nation. That is the dream. The reality is quite different.
Bangladesh tries to prevent the entry of every Rohingya Muslim. As a result the refugees become illegal immigrants and there are no laws in Bangladesh to protect illegal immigrants. For the women entering Bangladesh territory on a dream, the dreams can get dashed very quickly.
Many women find themselves to be raped and looted of everything making a new life impossible. Those accompanying the women also lose everything. Many women are forced to a life of prostitution, men to the life of drug smugglers. The Bangladesh authorities, mute to the sufferings of Rohingya refugees seize every opportunity to portray them as prostitutes and drug smugglers. The local media chips in.
Other women are forced to marry men two or even three times their age for security reasons. Since the riots of 2012, the number of Rohingya women in this limbo is on the increase. There is little choice, one must survive.
Of course there are the odd Rohingya women for whom their families can find a good shelter. Even in this corner of the world, there are good people who will shelter helpless women and protect their honour. In this day and age, their numbers are insignificant.
Shahpuri Deep, the gateway to Bangladesh remains a nightmare for most Rohingya refugees.