Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar were subjected to some of the most horrific human rights abuses last year. Still, hundreds of women and girls who were raped have decided to keep their babies, despite severe social stigma and pressure to abort them.
A CNN report released on Thursday shared the harrowing stories of 10 girls and women, just a handful of the 2,700 or so survivors of sexual violence at refugee camps in Bangladesh, who talked about the abuse they were subjected to, but also how they are finding a reason to live in their soon to be born children.
Fifteen-year-old Rahenah explained how she tried to hide with others in her village when Myanmar soldiers found them and set her house on fire.
"We ran out of the back door," Rahenah said.
"My brother-in-law died in the fire. Some men were able to escape, others could not. But we girls couldn't escape. The military caught us and tied us to a tree. They stuck tape over our mouths and stripped us. Then they raped us. Some of the girls lost consciousness and fell to the ground. I was one of them. I was bleeding a lot."
The teenager, who was married, said that her 19-year-old husband was later killed in the attack.
She decided to keep the baby, saying she is "happy" that she is "going to be a mother."
"But I am worried too because it is hard to survive here in the camps. I am worried that he won't get the necessary things he needs in life. I am worried he won't get an education. If my baby survives, I will try hard to make sure he is educated," she added.
Nafiza, also 15 years old, said that she can't wait for her child to be born, despite her rape at the hands of soldiers.
The girl said that she'll have "someone around for the rest of my life."
"One way or another, I will keep my child; I will never abandon him. If I was going to do that, I would have already done it by now," she noted.
Azara, 20, who was beaten severely and left for dead after she was raped, decided to keep her baby even though she was ordered by her husband to terminate it. The woman said she was even beaten by him as he tried to force her to abort the baby, but still she refused.
"Because I lost my entire family, if Allah does give me a son or a daughter, it will allow me to survive this life," Azara declared.
"When I will see him or her come into this world and I look upon him with my eyes — that thought gives me strength."
The rest of the survivors' stories can be read on the CNN page.
Humanitarian groups, including the interreligious Faith Coalition to End Genocide in Burma initiative, have also been documenting the genocidal violence some 700,000 Rohingya refugees faced when fleeing Myanmar in 2017.
Nicolee Ambrose was among 16 members of the coalition who visited the country earlier this year. Ambrose told The Christian Post in April that the Myanmar military was carrying out a mission to kill all men in the Muslim villages, and to separate and brutalize the women.
Ambrose revealed that besides the gang rapes and beatings, the soldiers also killed babies.
"The way in which they killed these babies was just full of rage and hatred," she said.
"It is hard for me to fathom someone who would chop a baby in two pieces and throws the baby in a river or throws the baby into a fire. This happened across the board in these villages."