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Sexual and Gender Based Violence: The Case of Rohingya Women and Girls

  • Portland State University, Smith Memorial Student Union, Room 333 1825 SW Broadway Portland, OR 97201 United States (map)

Dr. Gwen Mitchell and Aerlyn Pfeil discuss their experiences working with Rohingya women and the impact of sexual violence in conflict environments. The conversation will examine obstacles Rohingya women and girls face in seeking justice, accountability, and protection given their current status as stateless people. They will also go into the impacts that these experiences will have for generations to come and the positive role Rohingya women have as providers of support, hope, healing and resilience within their communities. 

Aerlyn Pfeil is a certified professional midwife and sexual violence program consultant from Portland, Oregon. She has been practicing midwifery since 1999 and joined MSF in 2011. She has worked in maternal health programs in South Sudan, Haiti, Senegal, the Somali region of Ethiopia, and Papua New Guinea. Aerlyn has been an active association member since joining MSF and was recently elected to the board. She holds a BA in sociology from Whitman College and a BS in midwifery and a degree in global health from the University of Manchester.

Dr. Gwen Vogel Mitchell is an Assistant Professor and Field Placement Director for the International Disaster Psychology M.A. program at the University of Denver. She is a licensed clinical psychologist in the State of Colorado where she also maintains a private practice. Dr. Mitchell has worked for many years as a trainer, consultant, and program developer for humanitarian organizations including Medecins Sans Frontiers, the Center for Victims of Torture and the Open Society Foundation in various locations including Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Jordan, Myanmar, Thailand and Bosnia. She also provided support for a global evaluation of UNHCR's mental health and psychosocial support for humanitarian staff and was a member of a UNICEF technical work group focused on child protection inside Myanmar. She played a part in the development of a mental health policy for the country of Liberia and has developed programming for marginalized groups including People Living with HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ communities, former political prisoners and torture survivors. 

Sponsors include the Oregon Historical Society, Never Again Coalition, World Oregon, Americans for Rohingya, Friends of Rohingya USA, Muslim Educational Trust, KBOO, Medecins Sans Frontiere, The Immigrant Story, Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, Portland State University’s Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Lewis and Clark Law School’s Crime Victims’ Rights Alliance, American Jewish World Service, and RAIN International. With support form Eric and Alia Breon.