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Gender-based violence risk is a part of daily life in refugee camps

2018 International Women's Day Blog Series

Authors: Anita Shankar, Naira Kalra, Rachel Mahmud, Luis Garcia

Johns Hopkins University ; Bloomberg School of Public Health; Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves; Plan International Spain

Over 135 million people worldwide are in need of humanitarian assistance today, as a result of violence, armed conflict and natural disasters. A large number of these individuals live in camp settings where daily living can be extremely challenging. Women and children often bear the weight of displacement—depending on food and other handouts- the delivery of which is inconsistent and unreliable- spending hours collecting fuel and cooking meals over smoky fires. But the burden of collecting firewood – often illegally- is not the only concern related to cooking with solid fuels: a recent systematic review of the literature by the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (2016) found that during this task, displaced women also face the risk of physical and sexual attacks, and injuries.

The risks of gender-based violence (GBV) are also increased within the home. Women and girls in humanitarian settings are generally at higher risk for experiencing violence at home by their partners. The failure to produce cooked food due to a shortage of fuel may increase this risk. Distributing clean cookstoves is a potential solution, but there is insufficient evidence about the relationship between clean cookstove use and the incidence and risk of GBV. Clean cookstoves are a valuable commodity, and we need more research to understand the benefits and potential unintended consequences of their distribution.

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