In this photograph taken on October 24, 2017, Rohingya Muslim refugees speak with medical staff inside a government-run family planning center in the Bangladeshi town of Palongkhali. (Photo by AFP)
TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - Family planning officials made the plea to the Bangladeshi government on Friday to approve a plan to launch vasectomies for Rohingya men and tubectomies for women in overcrowded camps in the district of Cox’s Bazar, which borders Myanmar’s troubled Rakhine State.
“Sterilization of the males is the best way to control the population,” said Pintu Kanti Bhattacharjee, who heads the family planning service in the border district. “If a man is sterilized, he cannot father a child even if he marries four or five times.”
The measure was introduced after rights activists working in the refugee camps in Bangladesh said some Rohingya women believed pregnancy provided protection against rape or other attacks in Myanmar.
“Some of them told us that if a woman was pregnant, she had less chance of being targeted by the military or attackers,” AFP quoted the activists as saying.
Farhana Sultana, a family planning volunteer who works with Rohingya refugees in the camps, said many of the women in Rakhine “did not go to family planning clinics, fearing the Myanmar authorities would give medicine that harms them or their children.”
Myanmar has offered no official data on birth rates among the Rohingya Muslims fleeing military crackdown in the Southeast Asian nation, however, Bangladeshi authorities claim some 20,000 Rohingya women are pregnant and 600 others have given birth since arriving in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh is dealing with over 600,000 Rohingya refugees who have flooded across the border since August 25, when the military in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar unleashed the crackdown on Muslims in Rakhine state.
Many of those fleeing Myanmar have recounted harrowing tales of rape, murder and arson at the hands of Myanmar’s forces and Buddhist mobs, in what has been branded “an ethnic cleansing campaign” against the Muslim minority group.
Early on Friday, United Nations human rights investigators reported a “consistent, methodical pattern” of killings, torture, rape and arson against Rohingya Muslim refugees in Myanmar.
The brutality against the Rohingya has its roots in the very fact that Myanmar does not recognize them as citizens and has denied citizenship rights to more than one million members of the community for several decades, alleging they are Bengalis who have in the past migrated to the country from Bangladesh.
The Rohingya were stripped of their citizenship in 1982 despite having lived in the country for generations.
The UN has said that the Rohingya are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.