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Climate Disasters and Gendered Violence in Asia

A Study on the Vulnerability and (In)Security of Women and Girls in the Aftermath of Recent Catastrophes in Pakistan, the Philippines, and Vietnam
On November 8, 2013, super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) took landfall on the Philippines. It was one of the strongest storms ever recorded and climate changes were suspected to have facilitated the extreme weather conditions. The typhoon caused the death of more than 6,000 people, displaced around 4 million, and affected at least 12 million Philippines. While the devastating storm was breaking news, its precarious aftermath has received only little attention in global media.

A climate catastrophe causes tragic deaths, ruins daily life, destroys materials, and disrupts societies. In this sense, no person or item is spared. Yet reports indicate that those who experience the greatest negative impacts after a climate disaster are the people who were already vulnerable and marginalized prior to the destructive event. Climate disasters, international aid organizations have warned, seem to fuel imbalances due to gender (as intertwined with age, ethnicity, sexuality, and economy) and exacerbate male-to-female violence. In the aftermath of a climate catastrophe, abuse against women and girls thus tends to increase for a number of reasons, such as a lack of safety in resettlement areas and shelters, the collapse of a society’s socio-cultural infrastructure and safety systems, violence perpetrated by a partner or a relative, and the commodification of female bodies (Oxfam 2010; UNDP 2013; UNFPA 2010). 

Purpose and Aims

Despite attention from international aid organizations, no substantial research has been carried out on the violence inflicted upon females of particular ages, sexualities, ethnicities, and classes in the aftermath of a climate disaster. This serious lacuna will be addressed directly by this research project. The project, which is both interdisciplinary and ethnographic in character, will conduct a thorough examination of climate change related violence against women and girls by examining the following research questions:

  • What are the socio-economic and political intersections between climate disasters and violence against women and girls?
  • Which kind of violence do women and girls encounter prior to and especially in the aftermath of a climate disaster?
  • Which climate catastrophe coping strategies are promoted by local and international organizations as well as governments to protect the female population against violence?
  • How do abused women and girls attempt to resist climate change related violence?

 

At the core of the project are three carefully selected countries, namely Pakistan, the Philippines, and Vietnam, each of which is indicative of certain tendencies in the Asia-Pacific region and which recently have been hit by climate disasters. Focusing on the complex ways in which gender and climate changes are intimately intertwined, the project will provide new and critical knowledge about an urgent and understudied problem.

 

Researchers on the project

Department of Political Science
Lund University
Visiting address: Paradisgatan 5H (House: Eden)
Postal address: Box 52, SE-221 00 LUND
Telephone: +46 46-222 89 52

Faculty of Social Sciences