Rhya Evans (NHS’22) has been selected as the Berkley Center-Pulitzer Center international reporting fellow for summer 2020. Her project will explore the role of religion and culture in menstruation practices among Rohingya girls and women in Bangladesh.
“I plan to explore the lived realities of Rohingya girls with a focus on uncovering the cultural and religious beliefs that influence menstruation, menstrual hygiene management (MHM), and their implications,” says Evans. “MHM is increasingly recognized as an important issue affecting the health, dignity, and education of girls worldwide.”
The fellowship, made possible through a partnership between the Berkley Center and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, offers one Georgetown student annually the opportunity to pursue a journalistic project that investigates the religious dimension of an international issue. Projects aim to bring to light what is often overlooked, untold, or misunderstood.
“I hope to engage with Rohingya girls and community leaders such as imams to shed light on the often unspoken cultural and religious beliefs surrounding menstruation and their implications for well-being,” explains Evans.
Evans will carry out much of her research remotely, conducting online interviews with people on the ground since international travel remains uncertain during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic intensifies existing challenges to menstrual management in Bangladesh, according to Evans.
“Research from NGOs like Oxfam indicates that within sprawling Rohingya refugee camps many girls are confined to their households during menstruation or until marriage, with over 75% of adolescent girls unable to meet their menstrual hygiene needs,” she says. “These realities are both complicated and exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with problematic lockdown measures and disruptions in access to water and sanitation services.”
As part of the fellowship, Evans will work closely with Pulitzer Center staff and mentors to craft journalistic pieces reporting on the cultural and religious factors of menstrual health care in Bangladesh. She will receive assistance from the Pulitzer Center in trying to place articles in high-profile news outlets.
The fellowship also gives Evans the opportunity to participate in the Washington Weekend hosted by the Pulitzer Center, where fellows from across the country gather to share their experiences and receive practical advice on pursuing careers in journalism. She will become part of a growing network of promising international journalists, which includes past Georgetown fellows Kaitlyn Johnson (G’20) and Julia Friedmann (SFS’19).
Read more about the Berkley Center-Pulitzer Center International Reporting Fellowship.