When Rohingya refugees began fleeing into Bangladesh in 2016 and 2017, lawyer and activist Razia Sultana found herself on the frontline of a sexual violence epidemic.

The Myanmar military, in its scorched-earth campaign against the Muslim minority, laid waste to entire villages, carried out massacres and lined up women to be raped, according to U.N. investigators, who have called for the alleged crimes to be prosecuted as genocide. As the exodus swelled to more than 770,000, Razia Sultana got to work documenting the violence.

Born in Maungdaw, Myanmar, Razia Sultana grew up in Bangladesh where she has worked for the Rohingya community as an educator, campaigner and interpreter. After interviewing hundreds of rape survivors, she established the Rohingya Women’s Welfare Society to provide counseling and respond to issues of domestic violence, child marriage and women’s health. Last year, she testified before the U.N. Security Council, and on March 7, the State Department honored her with a prestigious International Women of Courage Award.


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