Bangladesh is trying to sell the refugees on the virtues of contraception
One strand in the persecution of the Rohingya Muslims by the Myanmar government is population control. Since 2005, the government has tried to enforce a two-child policy. Back in 2015, Physicians for Human Rights complained that Millennium Development Goals were being used by the government to force the Rohingya to have fewer children.
And now, in the squalid camps across the border in Bangladesh which are now home to more than 600,000 Rohingya, the Bangladesh government is trying to sell the same message — with no more luck than their Myanmar counterparts. Public health official Dr Pintu Bhattacharya told Australia’s ABC that a Bangladeshi incentive scheme should be extended to the refugees. They are paid a small amount for voluntary sterilisation. “If we do not have this program among refugees then we will have more pregnancies, more newborns and more population,” he says.
Rohingya families are large and some men have several wives. Most couples have six or seven children and family planning workers have met families with 19 children. Many told AFP that a large family will help them survive in the camps. Many also believe that contraception is against Islam.
In the light of the fact that the Myanmar government weaponised contraception to control the Rohingya, perhaps it is understandable that these desperate refugees believe that large families represent freedom.
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