Gender-Based Violence after a Natural Disaster


Reddy, Himabindu, and Annekathryn Goodman. 2019. "Gender-Based Violence after a Natural Disaster." Prehospital and Disaster Medicine 34 (1).

Authors: Himabindu Reddy, Annekathryn Goodman


Introduction: Gender-based violenceis endemic across theworld. The current evidence suggests that gender-based violence increases after natural disasters. Factors leading to this increase following natural disasters include physical displacement, loss of community supports and protections, economic hardship, and gendered differences in coping. Multiple agencies are mobilized in response to natural disasters, however, personnel are often not adequately trained to recognize or address gender-based violence.

Aim: To identify challenges faced by disaster responders in recognizing and responding to gender-based violence in disaster settings, and to advocate for gender-sensitive training prior to deployment by responding personnel. Methods: The world’s literature was reviewed to identify challenges for disaster teams in recognizing and responding to gender-based violence, and to identify principles of training which may be applicable for pre-deployment competency building by disaster response personnel. 

Results: Disaster response programs should ensure:
• Collection of data to identify vulnerable populations
• Establishment of procedures for monitoring and reporting
• Inclusion of female staff at all levels of planning and response
• Implementation of holistic services including physical and psychosocial care and legal response
• Safety in designing accommodations and distribution centers

Pre-Deployment training should include:
• Gender-sensitive approach, knowledge of prevalence and impact of gender-based violence
• Familiarity with behaviors and conditions associated with gender-based violence
• Non-judgmental, supportive, and validating approach to inquiry and response
• Familiarity with risk assessment tools • Mobilization of social supports
• Knowledge of resources, including medical and legal services

Discussion: Natural disasters are destabilizing events which expose vulnerable populations, particularly women, to increased violence. Disaster response teams should be adequately trained on the prevalence and impact of gender-based violence to ensure gender-sensitive interventions. Standard training of response personnel can ensure adequate identification of victims of gender-based violence and referral to appropriate services.

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Climate Displacement, Environment, Environmental Disasters, Gender, Gender-Based Violence

Year: 2019

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