Extreme weather events increase gender-based violence during and after disasters, according to a new analysis.
Scientists say climate change is causing more severe weather events.
The researchers say future research should consider how sexual and gender minorities are disproportionately affected by climate change.
Around the world, the climate crisis has fueled more severe and frequent storms, heat waves, droughts and other dangers. A new study sheds light on how a warming world amplifies existing gender inequalities.
The visible number of weather disasters, such as demolished buildings and warped roads, “can overshadow more veiled consequences, including gender-based violence suffered by women, girls and sexual and gender minorities,” said Kim Van Daalen, a global public health expert. Cambridge University expert and lead author of a new analysis, told Insider.
In the analysis, published Monday in The Lancet Planetary Health, researchers analyzed 41 peer-reviewed studies and found that gender-based violence — such as sexual assault, intimate partner violence or trafficking, during and after disasters – seems to be a recurring theme.
A growing body of research has found that climate change is causing extreme weather events, including tropical storms, droughts, wildfires and floods, to become severe and more likely to occur. Over the past two decades, the frequency of floods has increased by 134%, storms by 40% and droughts by 29%, according to the research team.
“When we explore the overall impacts of climate change, we see that all genders experience climate change differently,” Van Daalen told Insider. “As a result of societal gender roles and responsibilities, we tend to see that, globally, women and girls suffer disproportionately from increased risks of climate change compared to men and boys.” For example, Van Daalen said the literature suggests that women are less likely to adapt after a natural disaster due to financial insecurity and poor institutional support.
While the researchers were not entirely surprised by the increase in gender-based violence during and after extreme weather events, one thing they did find interesting was that gender-based violence appeared to be a shared experience across all contexts studied – from Hurricane Katrina to New Orleans from floods in Bangladesh to droughts in India.
Extreme events can influence specific risks of gender-based violence for individuals with diverse sexual and gender identities, according to researchers. “Due to their frequent marginalization, sexual and gender minorities are often more severely impacted by disasters,” Van Daalen said, pointing to media reports around Hurricane Katrina of a handful of religious figures blaming New Orleans’ gay community. by the storm. Van Daalen added that the team’s research found a lack of documented evidence specific to sexual and gender minorities: “Future research should consider how this vulnerable population is also disproportionately affected.”
The researchers hope that the results of their analyzes can be used to plan appropriate interventions before, during and after disasters; some examples include providing post-disaster shelters and relief services — with their own toilets and showering areas — designed to be accessed exclusively by women, girls and sexual or gender minorities, or providing training for emergency response teams. to prevent gender-based violence.
“By understanding the mechanisms by which extreme events can influence or affect gender-based violence, we can better inform the design and implementation of climate-resilient, context-specific, and sex- and gender-sensitive interventions that address women’s needs. girls and sexual and gender minorities around the world,” said Van Daalen. “Importantly, these interventions must be informed and, where possible, co-created by the affected communities.”
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