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Reducing violence after natural disasters

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12 April 2011

Bangladesh

Research into evidence that gender-based violence increases following catastrophic climate events will assist in developing effective strategies to keep women safer following large-scale disasters.

Undertaken by the Gender Leadership and Social Sustainability (GLASS) Research Unit within the Department of Social Work at Monash University, a new research project will assess the incidence of gender-based violence related to catastrophic climate events and learn from the experiences and vulnerability of women in post-disaster situations.

"There has been alarming evidence emerging from various post-disaster zones that the incidence of violence against women increases following events such as earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes," Ms Alex Haynes from the GLASS Research Unit said.

"Despite studies placing the increase in violence as high as 100 per cent, there has been limited attention to gender-based violence in post-disaster recovery and reconstruction phases."

The analysis will then determine appropriate and practical ways to improve the safety of women in this situation.

"This research will fill a gap by providing systematic attention to women's stories of violence in a post-disaster catastrophic context allowing a greater understanding of the strategies that will make women and girls safer and give them more choices," Ms Haynes said.

The project will be lead by Professor Margaret Alston from the GLASS Research Unit and Oxfam Australia's Program Manager for India and Bangladesh. Oxfam have provided funding for the research project as part of the ongoing Oxfam Australia - Monash University partnership - a partnership that enables both organisations to significantly increase their impact on global poverty and health through catalysing change in the aid and development sector.

Disaster risk-management is a core activity of Oxfam as it seeks to improve ability to respond quickly and effectively to humanitarian crisis. The research project will assist Oxfam and other non government organisations gain further information on how to best respond to catastrophic situations. 

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