My article for the National Observer on December 1, 2017

[Photo credit for image above & in the article by the talented photographer Ario Adityo]

By Sylvia Yu

A slender girl with a solemn demeanour, Tahera was only nine when a trafficker came to her parents in the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar in southern Bangladesh. The trafficker promised her parents a lot of money if Tahera could work as a domestic worker for a Bangladesh family. Her parents fled to these camps with 200,000 other Rohingyas running from violent ethnic tensions eight years ago.

More than half a million new refugees escaped the violence in Myanmar over the last few months, in what experts call ‘textbook ethnic cleansing.‘ Rohingyas say they had to run after Myanmar soldiers and local mobs attacked, raped and killed Rohingya civilians and burned down their villages. And it’s not the first time Rohingyas have crossed over escaping violence. Over the past several decades, Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar. Human Rights Watch reports that the Rohingya, a Muslim minority of 1.2 million in Myanmar, are vulnerable to systemic human rights violations as they are viewed as illegal migrants in Myanmar and are not granted citizenship or given access to education and healthcare.

As a country policy, Rohingya refugees like Tahera and her parents are not legally allowed to work while living in Bangladesh camps. But her parents were desperate for cash and Tahera was forced to work as a cleaner in a home and look after children younger than her. In exchange for Tahera’s work, her parents received 500 Takas (CAD $7.60) a month. She was beaten each time she made a mistake.

Read the rest of the article here: