Army helping after disaster
(Photo credit: U.S. Army / Flickr)

When extreme weather strikes, the risk of violence within families and communities increases.

“Women and other commonly marginalized or disenfranchised people are particularly vulnerable,” says Cate Owren of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Her group studied how gender-based violence increases after natural disasters.

“After two cyclones in Vanuatu, for example, reports of intimate partner violence rose 300%,” she says. “In emergency post-disaster situations, we know that shelters can be highly dangerous places for women, as well as for people who identify as non-binary or as part of the LGBTQI community.”

She says similar problems occur during long-term crises – for example, when crops fail during droughts and people go hungry.

“Employment and livelihood losses can increase tensions at the household and community levels,” Owren says, “and also make women more vulnerable to rape, sexual exploitation, and human trafficking.”

As the climate changes, the risks may increase. So Owren says it’s important to consider how extreme weather affects gender-based violence – especially when preparing disaster plans and policies.

Reporting credit: Stephanie Manuzak/ChavoBart Digital Media.