Pimp says Rohingya plight ‘good for business’

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Desperate Rohingya refugees are being ruthlessly exploited in Bangladesh, with young children being sex trafficked to survive.

They have escaped slaughter, rape and starvation. But for the vulnerable Rohingya refugees who have fled persecution at the hands of the Myanmar army there is no guarantee of safety. 

Women and vulnerable young girls are being stalked inside refugee camps by gangs of pimps who need women to supply Bangladesh’s notorious sex trade.

They look for widows because they are alone or orphans who have nobody to protect them.

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“Kasim” is one of these sex traffickers preying on these women. He has agreed to be interviewed but only if we guarantee to hide his identity.

We pick him up at a pre-arranged meeting point on a dark street outside Kutupalong refugee camp in southern Bangladesh’s Ukhia district.

He looks like he is in his late twenties, is clean shaven and dressed in jeans and a half sleeve shirt.


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He is a Rohingya refugee himself and lives inside the camp, but his appearance suggests he was born in Bangladesh and his parents were one of the first wave of refugees who fled Myanmar in the past few decades.

He said this latest exodus has been good for his evil trade.

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“There are more and more people coming and they have lost everything. They don’t have money, so more and more girls are coming into the business,” he said.

“Now the old refugees are not coming into the business. The new ones are more desperate and have nothing, they are the ones turning to prostitution.


“People who end up alone, maybe who have had family members killed or who are in a very bad condition.

“They come into the business because the aid from the Government doesn’t last for a long time. The rice, sugar, oil etc doesn’t last for long so they end up with nothing and to earn money they go into prostitution.”

The threat is not restricted to women and girls. Kasim says there is also a demand for younger children, both boys and girls.

Aid agencies have warned for some time that vulnerable refugees are open to exploitation.

Police checkpoints are in place around the site to stop Rohingya refugees being taken to nearby cities like Cox’s Bazar and Chittagong.

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But pimps like Kasim are ruthless people and have found ways of smuggling their victims out of the camps undetected.

“Now the chances are fewer than before as there’s lots of security forces and check points,” he said.


“Earlier, anyone could come and go easily but now they have to go through check points. Earlier they could have come easily but now it’s a problem for the women.

“When they come they are asked where they are going and they lie about going to the market or Cox’s Bazar or to visit relatives, and they cross the check points.

“Once they reach Cox’s Bazar they move freely. The girls come for 15 or 30 days and then they go back.

“They stay here, 10 to 15 girls in one room and there are pimps like me also there.

:: Inside the Rohingya refugee camps

“So we look for these type of girls in the camps. Many women come to me from Kutuapalong or other places, but they are all Rohingya.

“Some come here who don’t have money or some come here whose husband has been killed or whose husband is in jail.

“For women who have two or three children they need money for their children’s medicine.”

The traffickers know exactly who to target. From the most desperate, they hunt the most vulnerable.

“The people who are poor and have four or five girls in the house, maybe they may have got one girl married and couldn’t afford to get the other girls married because they need a large dowry.” he said.

“These sort of girls come to the business more. The single mothers and also the unmarried girls who are still at home, they are the ones who need the money the most.”

Kasim said the trafficking of girls is not limited to Bangladeshi cities. He claimed to know of Rohingya women who have been sent to India and Pakistan.

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