Sunday, August 30, 2020
Hurricane Laura did serious damage to several states, primarily west Texas and Louisiana. While the devastation was severe the damage was not as extensive as predicted, future hurricanes may prove to be more deadly. Weather services predict that the number of hurricanes this season may not vary from prior years. The difference will be in their intensity and the level of devastation.
Women suffer more during disasters. Whatever the disaster, war, flood, tornado, or earthquake women are at higher risk for sexual assault within and without of their homes. Lessons from the 2005 Hurricane Katrina revealed horror stories of women being sexually assaulted while in temporary shelters. Women were assaulted consistently and without any police protection, even when police or other security was available. At the same time, proved through several studies, women experience increased domestic violence at home.
With the warning of the likelihood of a devastating hurricane season, this is the time for planning to protect those who will be at risk of sexual assault and other gender violence. Research confirmed this information at least two decades ago. But still we do no disaster planning to protect women during disaster. While we cannot change past victimization of women during disaster, we can plan for protection of women, particularly women of color and transgender women, from the horrors of sexual violence and the resulting trauma for those already traumatized by disaster.