Farhana Rahman is a Cambridge International Trust Scholar and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies. Her doctoral research focuses on Rohingya refugee women’s lived experiences of conflict and forced migration. She is the co-founder of Silkpath Relief Organization, a non-profit that provides humanitarian assistance to individuals devastated by calamities–in Afghanistan, and with Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and Malaysia. She also works as a consultant providing technical expertise and trainings on gender equality, social policy, and human rights. Her work can be found in various publications, including Feminist Review and Journal of International Women’s Studies.
‘I Had No Will to Live’: Rohingya refugee women negotiating gender, identity, and belonging
Until recently, Rohingyas from Myanmar making the perilous trek across the Andaman Sea to Malaysia and crossing the border into neighbouring Bangladesh, were predominantly male. The 2012 attacks in Rakhine state however, resulted in a drastic increase in women and girls also undertaking dangerous boat journeys in search of refuge. These journeys entailed not only violence and hardship, but also regular incidents of trafficking, rape, and forced marriage. Based on multi-sited feminist ethnographic research with Rohingya refugee women living in an urban squatter settlement on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as well as with women in the Kutupalong-Balukhali refugee mega-camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, this paper traces Rohingya women’s experiences of forced migration on their everyday lives and subjectivities. The narratives of Rohingya women’s perception of their own lives are vital to understanding how they navigate their host communities to create a semblance of home and belonging in displacement.
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