Systemic Rapes in Myanmar Will Lead to Spike in Babies Being Born -- And Possibly Abandoned

The Guardian reported yesterday that refugee camps are preparing for a spike in Rohingya women giving birth, months after sexual violence and systematic rapes by Myanmar soldiers.

An estimated 700,000 Rohingya civilians have fled across the Burmese border into Bangladesh. Agencies are now preparing for an increase in childbirths.

The Guardian reported that many babies will most likely be abandoned, as the new mothers struggle with how to care for the babies:

Save the Children says it is expecting the number of babies who are abandoned by their mothers to increase next month in line with the milestone. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which runs hospitals in the sprawling Cox’s Bazar camps, is preparing to counsel affected mothers.

“They may feel they cannot care or are not equipped to care for their new baby,” says Melissa How, a medical coordinator with the doctors’ group. “Many of them are young women under the age of 18. Additionally, how they will be perceived socially due to stigma is an added stress.”

Many of the Rohingya have limited or no access to healthcare and are struggling to provide for themselves already. Furthermore, the stigma of a child born out of wedlock or conceived by rape causes many women to be ostracized by their communities.

SkyNews reported that “Georgia Brown, a doctor working with MSF, said: ‘Having a baby born from rape, especially one that they think has come from Myanmar – the community will not accept this baby.'”

Earlier this month, RedState covered the arrest of two Reuters journalists in Myanmar; the ethnic and religious persecution of the Muslim Rohingya; and the U.N. report on the human rights violations taking place in Myanmar, including rape, torture, and murder.

MSF has estimated that an average of 3,100 births a month will occur in Rohingya refugee camps over the next few months.

One woman told the Guardian that last year, “three Burmese soldiers had burst into her home in a village south of Maungdaw town, threatened to shoot her children, and then raped her.” The woman, who has five children and whose husband died in 2012, gave birth to a baby boy in January.

According to the woman, “Everyone knew the soldiers commit rape when they raid villages.”

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent those of any other individual or entity. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @sarahmquinlan.