Saturday, March 26, 2005

Tsunami tragedy continues for women

An Oxfam International study, released Friday, on the tsunami which devasted south and southeastern Asia reveals that in some villiages of India and Sri Lanka, 80% of those killed in the tsunami were female. Those who survived are still suffering. "We are already hearing about rapes, harassment and forced marriages. We all need to wake up to this issue and ensure the protection, inclusion and empowerment of the women that have survived," says Becky Buell, Oxfam's policy director, in the India Times.

From CNN:
Sri Lankan women have reportedly been sexually assaulted in camp toilets and domestic violence is on the rise, the report found. Indian widows are now placed on the lowest rung of society where they can never remarry and must depend on their in-laws to survive.

Indonesian women, according to Oxfam and women activists, are being sexually harassed in camps, forced or rushed into marrying much older men and victimized by abusive Indonesian soldiers who reportedly have strip searched them.

As Margret Atwood theorized in The Handmaid's Tale, scarcity of women doesn't not increase their value in most societies; instead it further reduces them to the status of commodity to be sold, bartered or stolen. With what few assets they had now gone, women and female children are left to the fragile mercy of their male neighbors. This study shows just how thin the thread of civilization is.

Even if you made a donation in the early days after the tsunami, I urge you to dig deep and give again. It's going to take outside intervention to protect our sisters in Asia and that takes money. I made mine through Unicef, but there are many others still working. Give them a hand, please.


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