Breaking Iron Clad Ceilings: Tasmida Johar First India’s female Rohingya graduate

  • Photo By : Aliza Noor/Al Jazeera

Tasmida Johar, India’s first woman graduate from the displaced Rohingya group, says she is experiencing a “conflicting feeling” these days.

“These headlines, ‘first this, first that,’ make me happy, but they also make me sad.” “I am happy because this is my achievement, getting this far,” she told Al Jazeera as she sat in a public park in New Delhi’s predominantly Muslim neighbourhood.

“However, it makes me sad that I am the first to do so when so many Rohingya women wanted to come to this position but were unable to.”

Tasmida Johar is glad she was able to study despite the odds, but she hopes other women in her community had the same opportunity.

The Rohingya are a persecuted Muslim group from neighboring Myanmar who were subjected to a brutal military crackdown in 2017, which the UN described as “genocidal intent.”

The majority of the Rohingya fled to Bangladesh, where the Cox’s Bazar region became the world’s biggest refugee camp, with over a million refugees living in cramped makeshift homes made of bamboo and tarpaulin.

Nearly 20,000 Rohingya are registered as refugees with the UN in India, with some coming before 2017. More than a thousand of them reside on New Delhi’s outskirts.

Johar, 26, stated that she had been relocated twice. Her parents were compelled to change her name after she was born as Tasmin Fatima in Myanmar.

“My parents had to change my name because you can’t go to school and get an education in Myanmar unless you have a Buddhist name,” she explained.

Since 2014, when a Hindu nationalist party took power in India, the Rohingya have confronted hate speech and attacks, with the government declaring last year that they will be held in detention camps until they are deported back to Myanmar.

India has not signed the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol, and it does not have a national refugee strategy.