Some 700,000 ethnic Muslim Rohingya fled Myanmar following attacks by security forces in 2016 and 2017. Although the physical impacts of this genocidal campaign have made news headlines, less well known is the mental health crisis suffered by hundreds of thousands of survivors of mass violence and displacement. More than 88 percent of Rohingya experience depression, 84 percent emotional distress, and 61 percent the symptoms of PTSD, according to a December 2020 Fortify Rights study in Bangladesh—symptoms that make daily functioning a challenge. Rohingya women face a double burden: the trauma of past violence and displacement and ongoing threats to their well-being such as domestic violence, trafficking, and child marriage.
To address this silent crisis, ConnectHER will fund the Rohingya Women’s Development Network’s mental health support trainings created by and for Rohingya women. Held online and in women’s community centers in Malaysia, Bangladesh, and the US, these trainings will provide a safe space for survivors to talk about the trauma they have experienced and to discuss solutions with their peers. In Malaysia participants will receive livelihood training as well—one of the most effective ways to build women’s confidence and gain buy-in from men for women’s empowerment.