sby Dr Kate Beacher, Clinical Psychologist
Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh
Today I wanted to share with everyone just one example of the many horrifying personal accounts that have been shared with me since arriving in Bangladesh. Each day since my arrival I have been left aghast at the atrocities the Rohingya refugees have faced prior to arriving on this side of the border. For some (maybe even most), the psychological trauma they have experienced will never, ever be overcome.
What follows is just one account in a long, growing list of heartbreaking stories…
Asna** is a 25 year old pregnant woman. Towards the end of her pregnancy, she presents to her local hospital in the Rakhine State. It is the only medical service in the area and is run and staffed by the Myanmar military.
She tells the doctor that she is experiencing cramps and receives “emergency surgery” (an emergency cesarean) – performed without any anaesthetic.
She is awake and fully aware as she watches the military doctor slice open her abdomen and take her child out. The hears the child cry briefly and catches one, fleeting glance of it before she is heavily sedated.
When she awakes – an unknown amount of time later – she is told that her child is dead. She is sent back to her village where a friend tries to stitch up her bleeding, disfigured abdomen. Within hours, infection begins and she becomes feverish and extremely unwell.
The military come to her village two nights later. She watches as the men are corralled into an area near the canal and systematically executed.
The women and children begin to run. Of course, she can’t run because of her condition. Instead, she finds some bushes to hide in, and pretends to be dead. The pool around her from her still-bleeding abdomen assists in this cover.
She is found two days later by another injured – but alive – village member. Together they make their way towards the river, and are assisted across by friends of the family.
She now sits in front of me, telling me this story, emotionless, dissociated, in a state of pure trauma. Her immediate family are all deceased. Her world is in tatters.
**Not her real name. Changed for privacy and protection.
If you would like to help our mission, you can donate to the Backpacker Medics cause here: https://chuffed.org/project/bpmdrg-bangladesh#/supporters