According to the World Bank, 1 in 3 women will go through some type of gender-based violence during her lifetime. This number is much too high. And now, a study released by the IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, points out an increase in gender-based violence with climate change. Women take the blame for lack of water and other resources. Women also often become victims of manipulation and coercion.
Droughts lead to alcoholism and domestic violence
In Australia and Uganda, droughts led to a bad growing year. Farmers were compelled to sell crops grown by women that were meant for the family rather than for the market. In order to gain control, men beat women over the crops. The financial struggles led to an increase in men’s use of alcohol and drugs as a coping mechanism, which led to even more violence against women.
Fish depletion and sexual abuse
In Eastern and Southern Africa, a shortage of fish is creating an opportunity for men to exploit women for the access to purchase fish. For several years, fishermen have been barring women from buying fish until they engage in sexual acts with them. Overfishing along the coasts and exporting to wealthier countries have led to this dire human-rights crisis.
Water depletion and rape
In Guatemala, the water crisis has contributed to the increase in kidnappings and rapes. For a long time, men have been kidnapping young girls and raping them before forcing them into marriage. The changing weather conditions and increased mining have led to groundwater depletion, and girls have to travel further to get water. These unprotected long journeys have become ground zero for attacks.
These devastating examples are not where it stops. Climate change contributes to a rise in domestic violence, assault, rape, forced prostitution and marriage, human trafficking, and child marriage. Most in danger are women who are speaking out against climate change and women’s rights. And in the parts of the world where women are most vulnerable to violence, the women lack the land and legal rights that could serve as protection. The study was completed over a ten-year period, where over 1,000 sources were collected linking gender-based violence and climate change.
The choices we make as a society are exacerbating this situation every single day. Whether you identify as a woman or an ally, you can help share these women’s stories. Share this post with friends and family so that more people are aware of the injustices being done. I know that I will think twice, and remember all of the women out there, whenever I have the option to do something that might impact the environment less. We can make a difference.
Photo: Dareshe Women by Rod Waddington via Flickr