When marriage seems like an escape

Nearly 1 million Rohingya have fled to Camp 13 in Cox’s Bazar after decades of discrimination, denial of citizenship and brutal violence as Muslim minorities in their home state of Myanmar. It’s the most densely populated refugee settlement in the world. But many residents are simply grateful for shelter of any kind.

However, that perceived sense of shelter has actually been a battleground for the many women and girls in the settlement who have reported widespread physical and sexual assault, psychological abuse, and child marriage.

Parvina, 17, is a victim of early marriage and its consequences. Seeking escape from exploitation as a child laborer in the camp, she rushed into a marriage at 15 and had a baby soon after. “When I was pregnant, I was still a child,” she laments, “I did not have self-confidence.”

Parvina participates in a safe space run by World Vision runs at Camp 13 for girls and women where they can talk about these issues with trained counselors. They learn what gender-based violence is, how to protect themselves, avoid early marriage, and get professional help should they need it. Men and boys are also engaged so they can be part of the solution.

“What World Vision is doing about education and violence is important,,” says Ata Ullah, a former school teacher from Myanmar who now teaches gender-based violence prevention classes for boys and men. “With violence, the community cannot have a better life.”

Learn more about the work that World Vision is doing to support refugees like Parvina in some of the world's most difficult places