The Rohingya People And Their Struggle For Equal Rights


The term ‘refugees’ is spoken, heard and seen almost every other day. From Syrian refugees to Rohingya refugees, news about these individuals never seem to cease. We live in the 21st century where the internet enables us to reach out and hear the refugees stories. However the saddest part of it all is, despite all of that; the circumstances of the refugees is barely getting any better.

It would not be a surprise if many have heard and seen news of the Rohingya crisis. But the questions is, why are they speaking out and wanting to escape from Myanmar? The Rohingya people were called the ‘boat people’ by the international media when they were spotted waiting on board fishing boats off the coast of Indonesia, seeking asylum. As time passed, they were known as the ‘stateless people’.

And why is that so? Simply because Myanmar claimed them to be illegal immigrants, whereas “the Rohingya people say they have lived in the western state of Rakhine for generations“. Moreover, Bangladesh has repeatedly refused to allow the Rohingya people in their state and according to Amnesty International, “Bangladesh detained and forcibly returned hundreds” of Rohingyas.

The Rohingya crisis has been present since the 90’s and Amnesty International further revealed that “the Bangladesh government has since 1992 refused to grant refugee status to Rohingya arriving from Myanmar”. Thus, the Rohingya are more than often pushed back to Myanmar to a collective punishment.

Image Credit: Indian Defence Analysis
Image Credit: Indian Defence Analysis

The Indian Express mentioned “the fears of a fresh influx of Rohingya have compelled the Bangladesh government to refuse entry to those who have once again been exposed to the brutality of the Myanmar army”. Why are the Rohingya people so adamant to leave Myanmar? That is because they have been treated unjustly by the government and the military forces.

As told by many people from the Rohingya community, there have been many indiscriminate reprisal attacks on their people by the Myanmar security forces. International media outlets have mentioned attacks such as firing at Rohingya villages from helicopter gunships, torching hundred of homes, conducted arbitrary arrests and raping of women and girls.

Moreover, the Myanmar government has denied all the allegations against them and said there is no violation of human rights against the Rohingya. United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, Yanghee Lee mentioned in a news conference on 20 January 2017 how the Myanmar government’s refusal to address the allegations have lessened its reliability.

“The government’s response to all of these problems seem to currently be to defend, dismiss and deny,” Lee said.

” For the government to continue being defensive when allegations of serious human rights violations have persistently been reported, that is when the government appears less and less credible.”

Sure, the Rohingyas have faced atrocities and resentment in Myanmar but it’s not the only country who has been unfair to them. Bangladeshi authorities have repeatedly pushed the Rohingya refugees back to Myanmar which forced these asylum-seekers into hiding. The fact that Bangladesh detained and forced hundreds of refugees to return to Myanmar, the act itself was a violation of International Law.

Image Credit: Bangladesh Authorities - Southeast Asia Globe
Bangladesh Authorities – Southeast Asia Globe

As cited by Amnesty International, “the move is a violation of the principle of non-refoulement – an absolute prohibition under international law on forcibly returning people to a country or place where they would be at real risk of serious human rights violations”.

Many out there often blame Myanmar for being the sole reason to the circumstances the Rohingya people are in, whereas Bangladesh has an equal or a greater part to play in their lives. The Bangladesh government has a policy from back in 1992 of refusing and returning Rohingya refugees back. This led to the Rohingya having to pay smugglers in order to take them across.

Furthermore, the Rohingya vulnerability made them a target for local thieves. Refugees tend to run from their homes without even the basic necessities and it’s not only upsetting but disappointing to see how two big nations have caused the Rohingya people to plead for help from the international media. Is this what democracy is like?

There is a clear violation of human rights against the Rohingya but apart from Myanmar declining these claims, they have further “blocked access to humanitarian aid and effectively barred independent journalists and human rights monitors from entering the area“. The question is if the Myanmar government has got absolutely nothing to hide, why are they not allowing access to “independent observers, including human rights monitors, aid workers and journalists“? Something to wonder, yes?

Aung San Suu Kyi, the ever famous Burmese politician and the prominent leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) has the primary responsibility to lead the concern and conflict over the Rohingya people. However, she has failed to end or even address the Rohingya migrant crisis. Moreover NLD has refused to comment on the issue, which has turned into a concern for the international media.

Image Credit: BBC
Image Credit: BBC

Researchers in the West concluded that “despite the fact that this is the most significant test of Suu Kyi’s leadership, she has remained remarkably indifferent”. This crisis has also placed NLD and Suu Kyi’s image on the line as there are many doubts surrounding them.

Also, 28 global leaders have warned Suu Kyi of the consequences of not involving herself in the Rohingya crisis. As mentioned by Al Jazeera, “more than a dozen Nobel laureates have criticised Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi for failing to uphold the human rights of Rohingya Muslims in the country’s Rakhine state, urging for immediate action to avoid ‘ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity’ “.

However, despite numerous appeals; Suu Kyi has yet to taken any action to make sure the Rohingya people receive their deserved citizenship rights. BBC reporter Mishal Husain had interviewed Suu Kyi earlier last year and the Rohingya crisis was brought up. it was disappointing to see how Suu Kyi was more concerned about the cultural and religious differences between the Buddhist majority and the R0hingya people rather than what can be done to solve the crisis itself.

“I would like to make the point that there are many moderate Muslims in Burma who have been well integrated into our society, but these problems arose last year and I think this is due to fear on both sides,” Suu Kyi said.

“This is what the world needs to understand; that the fear is not just to the side of the Muslims but on the side of the Buddhists as well.”

Image Credit: Al Jazeera
Image Credit: Al Jazeera

The Rohingya crisis has been existent for decades, but the recent refugee crisis in Europe indefinitely overshadowed the Rohingya plight. It is still very much present and only seems to be worsening. The international media has no doubt voiced their circumstances and what atrocities they have gone through and are still going through.

Then why is there little done for them? Bangladesh and Myanmar both have contributed equally in worsening the Rohingyas situation and it is our duty as ethical individuals to speak up and be their voices, until the day it starts getting better.

Day in and day out, we hear refugee crisis going from bad to worse. Therefore, lets use our voices to speak out for these voiceless individuals as a larger force with a stronger voice might perhaps be their solace.

Mari Khan Safi 

Invisible Victims


What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the words domestic abuse? Yes, abuse against women. It is not much of a surprise as to how we always link domestic abuse to women. Whereas, it comes as a surprise if domestic abuse is linked with men.

A statistics report in 2015 revealed that almost every nine seconds, a woman is either assaulted or beaten in the United States. [2] However according to mankind statistics, two out of three domestic abuse victims are females while one is most definitely a male.[3] Then why is it so that not many speak about the one out of three abuse victims? Is it because they are males? Or is it because it is out of the ‘ordinary’ to do so?

Domestic abuse is not only physical but emotional abuse as well. Both physical and emotional abuse goes alongside one another.[4] It is very much unusual to find physical abuse without the existence of emotional abuse. Moreover, emotional abuse starts much earlier than physical abuse. The question is whether is it the same for both men and women? Indeed, it is. However, a small percentage of the population might agree or admit to that, due to how men are portrayed since evolution. Moreover, the movie industry has always portrayed men to be the more dominant and controlling individual.


Men are always told to ‘act’ in a certain way. They are represented as the more dominant individual in any form of relationship. This makes it one of the main reasons as to why a number of domestic abuse cases on men go unreported. According to the guardian, reports revealed more than 40 per cent of domestic violence victims are surprisingly males.[6] Forty per cent is no doubt a large percentage of domestic abuse victims. Often domestic abuse cases against men go unnoticed due the extensive coverage on abuse against women and no or little coverage on abuse against men.

Parity, a campaign group which promotes equal rights for men and women claimed that neither the police nor the media takes male domestic abuse victims into much consideration.[7] Feminism is a hot topic in today’s day and era. However due to society’s norms, men are seem unable to fight for their rights as they are not ‘supposed’ to look weak. See the irony of it all?

There is more than one statistical report that states a higher percentage of women go through domestic abuse in comparison to men. However, according to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention statistics report, almost 5,365,000 men and 4,741,000 women were victims of domestic abuse in 2015.[8] The difference in both the numbers is apparent, yet often ignored or goes unnoticed. Only if these statistics were taken more seriously, there might be a decrease in the percentage and not an increase.

Men are often treated as ‘second-class victims’ when it comes to domestic abuse. [9] As mentioned earlier on, men are not taken seriously due to the society’s ‘standards’. A survey done in 2013 revealed that 95 per cent of reported domestic violence cases are of men abusing women and five per cent are of women abusing men. [10] However, what about the unreported ones? The issue of domestic abuse on men is a very taboo subject as men feel it would bring shame to their lives if they ever spoke about it.[11]

 Men seem to feel reluctant to report domestic abuse as they would come upon as ‘unmanly’ and ‘weak’. They fear it might not only affect their personal lives but their professional lives too. People might either mock them or perhaps not take it seriously. Also, culturally it is tough for men to speak about domestic abuse against them to the authorities as it represents them as ‘frail’ individuals. Is it because, men are ‘supposed’ to be strong enough to walk away?

A male victim of domestic abuse who wished to remain anonymous told The Sun a British Newspaper, earlier in September about his personal experience on being abused by his girlfriend.

“She would often punch or slap me if we had simple disagreements and then would apologise and get very upset,” he said.

“It all came to a head one night in a bar when we had both had too much to drink.

“We got into an argument as we were leaving and she punched me in the face several times and broke my nose.

“Two guys came out of the pub and began attacking me.

“I was on the floor telling them that I was the victim but they didn’t stop kicking until she told them that she had hit me.

“The police were unwilling to help and I eventually dropped charges and ended our relationship.”

The fact that the victim was hit without being asked what actually happened, just proves the mindset the general public has of male domestic abuse victims. Moreover, this only shows how the authorities treat men when it comes to domestic abuse against them.

Furthermore, social experiments have been conducted where men were being hit by women in the public. The public’s reactions were appalling. Passersby laughed it off, and many took their smart phones out to record as it looked ‘funny’. When the exact experiment was done on women being hit, the reactions were totally different. People rushed to help the women within seconds. Sense the hypocrisy? I sure did, while watching the video below.

There are 7,500 female refugee places in England and Wales, but only 60 for males.[12] The difference is clear and astonishing; especially with the presence of human rights activists and social media. In today’s day and era, every other person is a citizen journalist, yet such issues are seldom brought to light.

Equal rights should indeed apply to both males and females. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone of any gender, so why the bias point of view? Domestic abuse against a man is just as repulsive as it is when the victim is a female. It is so very important for people to wake up and realise that each victim should be seen as an individual entity rather than basing them on their gender. Both should be provided with the same amount of help and none should be mocked.

Perhaps women are not the only voiceless individuals when it comes to domestic abuse. Men seem to be prominent in this regard as well, yet are being ignored. Having a voice yet feeling voiceless is a feeling that makes one feel dejected. Why not open our minds, to such possibilities and provide them with the same amount of support as we do with women?

It is time to voice these voiceless individuals.

Maria Khan Safi



Birch, Jenna. 2015. “The Number Of Male Domestic Abuse Victims Is Shockingly High — So Why Don’T We Hear About Them?”. Yahoo.Com.

Campbell, Denis. 2010. “More Than 40% Of Domestic Violence Victims Are Male, Report Reveals”. The Guardian.

“Domestic Violence Statistics”. 2016. Domestic Violence Statistics. Accessed November 6.

MA, John G. Taylor. 2013. “Behind The Veil: Inside The Mind Of Men “That Abuse””. Psychology Today.

“Parity – Campaigning For Equal Rights For UK Men And Women.”. 2007. Parity-Uk.Org.

“Prevalence And Characteristics Of Sexual Violence, Stalking, And Intimate Partner Violence Victimization — National Intimate Partner And Sexual Violence Survey, United States, 2011”. 2015. Cdc.Gov.

Tracy, Natasha. 2016. “Physical And Emotional Abuse Usually Travel Together – Healthyplace”. Healthyplace.

Wooding, David. 2016. “Domestic Violence Against Men Soars To Record Levels As Number Of Cases Treble In Past Decade”. The Sun.