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Friday, May 24, 2024

For Young Rohingya Brides, Marriage Means a Perilous, Deadly Crossing

BANGKOK — Haresa counted the days by the moon, waxing and waning over the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. Her days on the trawler, crammed into a space so tight that she could not even stretch her legs, bled into weeks, the weeks into months.

“People struggled like they were fish flopping around,” Ms. Haresa, 18, said of the other refugees on the boat. “Then they stopped moving.”

Dozens of bodies were thrown overboard, some beaten and some starved, survivors said. Ms. Haresa’s aunt died, then her brother.

Six full moons after she boarded the fishing boat in Bangladesh with hopes that human traffickers would ferry her to Malaysia for an arranged marriage, Ms. Haresa, who goes by one name, and almost 300 other Rohingya refugees found sanctuary in Indonesia last month. Her sister, 21, died two days after the boat landed.

Banished from their homes in Myanmar and crammed into…

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