Gender based violence in humanitarian crisis

IASC+GBV+GUIDELINES+Reduce+risk+=+GBV+prevention+and+mitigation+in+all+aspects+of+humanitarian+response.
Promote resilience = strengthen systems to prevent and mitigate – and ensure access to support. Aid recovery = support capacities to create lasting solutions.

I have just finished the training dealing with issues around gender based violence in humanitarian crisis. A very interesting and inspiring workshop - exposing complexities of humanitarian work. Delivering aid is not only sustaining and potentially saving lives, but also very much about doing it in a way that minimises exposure to abuse of the most vulnerable by the stronger ones and really powerful ones. 

Not surprisingly, but sadly, women and girls are often those who are the vulnerable ones. They experience threats and abuse from their family members, from religious leaders, community members, from police officers, aid workers, gang/mafia members, administration officers, soldiers… you name it. The threats are essentially everywhere, on the way to get food rations, on the way to and inside the community shower/toilet, while collecting firewood for cooking, on the way to fetch water, on the way to a clinic… you name it. You may be harassed/assaulted brutally by soldiers, police in a very brutal and organised manner, but also in situation that you do not expect… while trying to walk on a less attended area to fetch water, by a sick-minded officer who would only let you pass a check-point, if you ‘return a favour’ at the back room, or by someone who would tell you that you need to pay in nature for getting your life-sustaining goods (food or medicines). Tragically, sometimes you are forced to sacrifice your child daughter into marriage, even if you know that this is the biggest evil that you can do to her, just because if you do not do it, your daughter, yourself and the rest of the family will be severely punished/beaten/refused a right to exist. I could go on and on with countless of other examples. 

Although I know that there are good reasons for why this happens; it is clear that vast majority of these crimes against fellow humans (women) are committed by men. Yes, not all men have sick and criminal minds, yes men are subjected to inhumane suffering too - no doubt about it… There is however the uncomfortable truth here too: we, men, are mostly responsible for additional suffering of millions of girls and women on daily basis. This is true during humanitarian crises, but also in other situations - essentially in every part of the world, in every village, town and city.

When you genuinely realise the extent and severity of the suffering that we cause to women, it becomes overwhelming and unbearable. I actually am finding it very difficult to deal with it, as a man. I do not know where to start and how to make it up… Perhaps, the best way is to admit that I am sorry. I am genuinely sorry and I beg you, ladies, for forgiveness.

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