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When a Baby Is an Everyday Reminder of Rohingya Horror

When a Baby Is an Everyday Reminder of Rohingya Horror

Once neighbors suspect the provenance of a baby, the humiliation can be stifling.

At the Kutupalong refugee camp, two women were sequestered in the back of a shelter. Outside, amid the mud and sewage, men tugged at a manually powered Ferris wheel, a brief moment of delight for an uprooted community. Children shrieked in glee.

Inside the shelter’s gloom, the women — one on the verge of giving birth and the other her mother-in-law — twisted their hands and stared into space.

The soldiers had come to their village, Jesmin, the pregnant woman, said, just as they did across the Rohingya-dominated townships of northern Rakhine State: burning homes, firing indiscriminately, herding the women into groups. Thirteen people were killed in their hamlet, according to human-rights monitors.

Ms. Jesmin’s mother-in-law, Rahima, was cordoned with her, at gunpoint. Those who resisted rape, Ms. Rahima said, were slammed on the head with rifle butts and were violated anyway.

By the time the two women escaped and reunited weeks later with Ms. Jesmin’s husband in a refugee camp in Bangladesh, the excommunication had begun.

Ms. Jesmin’s daughter, only 25 days old when the soldiers attacked, was taken from her and placed with a relative.

“I miss her,” she said. She had no other words.

Of the impending birth, the women talked little. It is not clear who the father is.

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