Everyone Is Affected By Climate Change But Studies Prove That It Leads To Increase In Violence Against Women. We Simply Can’t Win
Just last week I heard someone say, “Our world is doomed,” and I wanted so badly to argue with them, but I couldn’t. Not because I believe in that but because I just couldn’t think of one response -something positive to point out to them. The thing is, at this very moment, it seems like every time I look up, I come across a new life-threatening issue that is affecting the entire world and most of them stem from climate change. Think about it, Australia is burning, the thousands of acres of the Amazon burnt down, India is so polluted there is more carbon monoxide in the air than oxygen, groundwater levels are going down and the mean sea level is going up. These are just off the top of my head, but research proves that if this isn’t curbed, we really are doomed. Terrified? Me too.
Speaking about research, we just came across a few studies that absolutely blew our minds. I think we have already established that climate change is real (a lot of people still think it is a hoax) if we don’t get a hold on it, the movie 2012 is no longer going to be fiction. But, have you stopped to think about how it is affecting people currently around the world? It is happening you guys, in the most subtle ways.
These studies that I was talking about focus specifically on how climate change has led to an increase in violence against women. Believe it or not, this right here proves that there is no winning for women. Environmental degradation has led to more and more cases of gender-based exploitation and oppression.
Also Read: Dia Mirza Breaks Down While Talking About Climate Change. People Ask Her Why Her Actions Don’t Back Her Talk
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You must be wondering what the connection between the two global issues is? It is quite simple actually. You know how the responsibilities like household chores, cooking food, fetching water etc. falls on the woman? Now imagine that a particular region is under major environmental distress. The groundwater is depleting, crops are dying, there is scarcity of food etc etc. The women must work doubly hard, walk for more kilometres to find water , through treacherous terrain, which leaves them vulnerable increasing their chances of getting assaulted or raped.
A report in the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) says “We found that girls who spend more time fetching water have fewer days in school and may even drop out. Women reported that having to spend more time and energy finding food and water meant that they might not have time to complete their other household and family responsibilities. Or this extra work meant that they became too tired for sex, and some men respond to this with violence.”
That is just one example, it does not end here. Climate change has also led to increased domestic violence, human trafficking, child marriage, forced prostitution and every other form of violence against women you can think of. For instance, a study in Uganda in 2018 found that financial stress due to crop failure increases marital stress and can result in spousal violence against women.
Another thing that was noticed was, poor harvest, loss of livestock, drought, lack of food put tremendous pressure on the conventional role of men as providers. This causes a lot of men to take to the bottle to cope making them more violent which obviously leads to an increase in domestic violence.
Talking about our own country, in India, too climate change is not only gravely increasing violence against women but also creating all kinds of obstacles for them. Let me give you an example. The subject of farmers’ suicide has been long talked about. And while it is terribly sad that we are losing farmers due to as unseasonal rains or drought that leads to crop failures, have you ever thought about what happens to their families? Their wives are forced into labour, their children are made to drop out from school to help pay off humongous debts which of course leaves them in miserable states.
Fact: Women in India make up 65% of the agricultural workforce. Climate change is definitely not doing them any favours. When things go south, the women are the first to be sold, beaten up and made to work three times harder.
Also Read: Greta Thunberg’s ‘How Dare You?’ Is The War Cry For Climate Change That We All Need To Hear
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We all know how global warming puts a lot of pressure on resources, right? This has led to frequent fires, floods, drought, famine, storms around the globe. Now, in most parts of the world women are at major disadvantages for they have fewer rights and are already super vulnerable. Taking all that into consideration, it stands to reason that when additional stress of climate change hits, women are targeted first. Did you know there are a few communities where young girls are married before legal age because the family can’t deal with an additional mouth to feed because their family income has been affected indirectly by climate change?
There are also reports that show that an increase in natural disasters and weather-related problems has led to a major increase in sex trafficking by at least 30%. This happens because women are the ones that left vulnerable after disaster has struck.
Climate change was a tough enough problem to deal with anyway. Now that we understand that it is directly proportional to violence against women it becomes a much bigger threat.
What we can do is spread awareness amongst women, educate them on what can happen and how to tackle with it. We can also begin taking micro-steps to ensure we do not at least contribute to this crisis. Let us start by doing that, please.