Kulsuma, 30, embraces her son while waiting by the side of the road for food and cash distributions near the Balukhali refugee camp in Bangladesh on Friday September 22, 2017. Kulsuma arrived in Bangladesh 8 days ago after fleeing her village from attack by the Burmese Army. In the chaos, she and her child became separated from her husband. She does not know of his fate. -----------------------------------------------------A series on the effects of forced displacement of the Rohingya. On assignment for @buzzfeednews. #myanmar #rohingya #women #dignity #refugees •
All throughout the day and into the night, thousands of people line the narrow main road near the mushrooming makeshift tents that have been steadily multiplying across the hills near the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar in the past several weeks. Everyone stands, or sits, often with their hands outstretched for a donation of any kind: rice, a piece of clothing, water, money.
Most of those waiting are widowed women or women separated from their husbands because of the the attacks on their villages by the Burmese Army. Out of the nearly 20 people I spoke with for this series, many witnessed their husbands being burned or killed. Others simply did not know the fate of them. Using my headlamp, I lit the women in the spot they were standing and waiting in, with the children they carried. It was so apparent the devastating trauma and pain they had survived. All across the board, the uncertainty of their situation was clear: without any source of income, without their husband, and without proper shelter - let alone a country to call their own - these women and their children are extremely vulnerable to exploitation of all kinds. The international community, local organizations, and government have a responsibility to protect these women. They have lost everything and are unwanted everywhere they turn, and they certainly do not deserve the insult that will add to their injury of being sold or treated as a commodity.