Tag Archives: sexual violence

Preventing violence linked to WASH: practitioners’ toolkit

WeCan Campaign poster used in an IDP camp in Batticoloa, Sri Lanka to help respond to and prevent violence against women

WeCan Campaign poster used in an IDP camp in Batticoloa, Sri Lanka to help respond to and prevent violence against women

Poorly designed and located water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions can increase people’s vulnerability to violence. This can range from sexual harassment when practicing open defecation or collecting water, to staff demanding sexual favours in exchange for access to WASH facilities.<

With this in mind, WaterAid/SHARE have published a toolkit  [1] to help practitioners make water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) safer for the most vulnerable.

The toolkit consists of briefing notes, a checklist of actions based on the ten key principles for reducing vulnerability to WASH-related violence, and a range of tools including case studies of good practice.  It is relevant for both humanitarian and development contexts. The materials also include videos, scenarios for training and tools for use with communities, key extracts from international human rights instruments and a folder of additional supporting information

Any actor working in humanitarian, development or transitional contexts can request free access to the materials by sending an email to gbv@wateraid.org.

[1] House, S., Ferron, S., Sommer, M. and Cavill, S. 2014. Violence, gender and WASH : a practitioner’s toolkit : making water, sanitation and hygiene safer through improved programming and services. London, UK, WaterAid/SHARE.

For more information:

  • House, S. et al., 2014. Violence, gender and WASH : a practitioner’s toolkit : making water, sanitation and hygiene safer through improved programming and services. Humanitarian exchange magazine, no. 60, February 2014. Available at: <http://washurl.net/5as6s3>
  • Violence and vulnerability: making WASH safe. Hygiene promotion in emergencies newsletter, no. 5, March 2014, Available at: <http://washurl.net/8k5b0a>
  • SHARE: Equity

In 2012 WaterAid America released “1 in 3“, a video highlighting the impact of the lack of sanitation on women.

India, Bihar: rapes ’caused by lack of toilets’

Map showing  frequency & severity of violence against  women in Bhalswa slum, Delhi. Shirley Lennon/SHARE.

Map showing frequency & severity of violence against
women in Bhalswa slum, Delhi. Shirley Lennon/SHARE.

The lack of safe toilets for women and girls is often linked to an increased risk of sexual harassment and rape. Earlier studies [1] from Kenya, Uganda and India, and now a recent BBC news item are some of the few sources to actually quantify this risk.

Senior police official Arvind Pandey from the Indian state of Bihar told the BBC that 400 women would have “escaped” rape in 2012 if they had toilets in their homes. The rapes take place when women go outside to defecate early in the morning and late evening. These “sanitation-related” rapes make up nearly half of the more than 870 cases of rape in Bihar in 2012.

The BBC news item lists three specific cases:

  • On 5 May, an 11-year-old girl was raped in Mai village in Jehanabad district when she was going to the field at night
  • On 28 April, a young girl was abducted and raped when she had gone out to defecate in an open field in Kalapur village in Naubatpur, 35km (21 miles) from the state capital, Patna
  • On 24 April, another girl was raped in similar circumstances on a farm in Chaunniya village in Sheikhpura district. She told the police that two villagers had followed and raped her. One of them has been arrested

In Bihar , 75.8% of homes have no toilet facilities (Census 2011). Some 49% of the households without a toilet wanted one for “safety and security” for women and children, according to a study by Population Service International (PSI),   Monitor Deloitte and Water for People.

[1] Heise, L., 2013. Danger, disgust and indignity : women’s perception of sanitation in informal settlements. Powerpoint presented at “Making connections: Women, sanitation and health”, 29 April 2013, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). Video version available at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AS9ulpJqh7s

Related news:

  • Request for Proposals: The effects of poor sanitation on women and girls in India, Sanitation Updates, 07 Mar 2013
  • India, Delhi: how sexual violence against women is linked to water and sanitation, E-Source, 27 Mar 2012

Source: Amarnath Tewary, BBC, 09 May 2013

 

India, Delhi: how sexual violence against women is linked to water and sanitation

Girls under ten being have been raped while on their way to use a public toilet, say women living in Delhi’s slums. In one slum, boys hid in toilet cubicles at night waiting to rape those who entered. These are some of the incidents mentioned in a recent briefing note based on research supported by WaterAid and the DFID-funded SHARE (Sanitation and Hygiene Applied Research for Equity).

The link between a lack of access to water and sanitation facilities and sexual violence against women is not well known and to date has received insufficient attention. The briefing note highlights this link within the context of urban slums in Delhi, and suggests how this problem can be addressed.

Lennon, S. 2011. Fear and anger : perceptions of risks related to sexual violence against women linked to water and sanitation in Delhi, India. (SHARE briefing note). London, UK, SHARE, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. 15 p. Available at: www.shareresearch.org/Resource/Details/violenceagainstwomen_india

Kenya, Nairobi: lack of sanitation leaves women sick and “prisoners in their homes”

Women and girls in Nairobi’s slums live under the constant threat of sexual violence, leaving them often too scared to leave their houses to use communal toilet and bathroom facilities, Amnesty International said in a new report released on 7 July 2010.

Amnesty International calls on the Kenyan government to enforce landlords’ obligations to construct toilets and bathrooms in the slums and settlements and provide assistance to structure owners who are unable to meet the costs of constructing toilets and bathrooms.

Insecurity and Indignity: Women’s experiences in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya [1] details how the failure of the government to incorporate the slums in urban plans and budgets has resulted in poor access to services like sanitation, which hits women in slums and informal settlements especially hard.

“Women in Nairobi’s settlements become prisoners in their own homes at night and some times well before it is dark,” said Godfrey Odongo, Amnesty Internationals East Africa researcher. “They need more privacy than men when going to the toilet or taking a bath and the inaccessibility of facilities make women vulnerable to rape, leaving them trapped in their own homes.

“The fact that they are unable to access even the limited communal toilet facilities also puts them at risk of illness.”

The situation is compounded by the lack of police presence in the slums and when women fall victim to violence they are unlikely to see justice done. Kibera, Nairobi’s largest slum and home to up to a million people, has no police post.

“I always underestimated the threat of violence,” said 19-year-old Amina of Mathare slum. “I would go to the latrine any time provided it was not too late. This was until about two months ago when I almost became a victim of rape.”

Amina was set upon by a group of four men while she walked to the latrine at 7pm. They hit her, undressed her and were about to rape her when her cries were heard and a group of residents came to save her. Although she knew one of the men involved in the assault, Amina did not go to the police as she feared reprisal attacks.

Unable to leave their one-roomed houses after dark, many women in informal settlements resort to ‘flying toilets’ – using plastic bags thrown from the home to dispose of waste.

Women also told Amnesty International how the poor sanitary conditions they live in – which include widespread disposal of human excreta in the open because of lack of adequate access to toilets – directly contribute to cases of poor health and to high health care costs.

Other women describe the humiliation of bathing in front of their relatives and children.

Even by day, public bathroom facilities are few and far between and invariably involve walking long distances. According to official figures, only 24 per cent of residents in Nairobi’s informal settlements have access to toilet facilities at household level.

Despite some positive features, Kenya’s Millennium Development Goal (MDG) policies to meet the target on sanitation do not address the specific needs of women who face the threat of violence because they lack adequate sanitation.

They also do not address the lack of enforcement of regulations requiring owners and landlords to provide sanitation.

“There is a huge gap between what the government commits to do, and what is going on in the slums everyday” said Godfrey Odongo.

“Kenya’s national policies recognise the rights to sanitation and there are laws and standards in place. However, because of decades of failure to recognize slums and informal settlements, planning laws and regulations are not enforced in these areas.

“The lack of enforcement of these laws has ensured that landlords and structure owners in the slums can get away without providing any toilets or shower places for their tenants”

Lack of security of tenure also remains a long standing problem for tenants, despite a national land policy in place, removing any incentives that landlords or owners could have to ensure proper sanitation, and measures to increase security.

Amnesty says the government must also take immediate measures to improve security, lighting and policing and ensure that relevant government authorities coordinate their efforts to improve the water and sanitation situation in the settlements.

Amnesty representatives met with officials from the Ministry of Health, the City Council including the Town Clerk, and also some officials from the official regulator of water and sanitation services within Nairobi, the Athi Water Services Board.

In almost all of the meetings, it was agreed that there was little coordination between the relevant Ministries in the government to ensure that women in slums had access to water and sanitation.

Even though Amnesty recognised that the situation is complicated, representatives stressed that this is no reason to pass the buck from one Ministry to the next.

Some of the officials committed to asking the Office of the Prime Minister to bring together all of the relevant officials in an attempt to ensure that water and sanitation is provided for women in slums.

[1] Amnesty International (2010). Insecurity and indignity : women’s experiences in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. London, UK, Amnesty International Publications. Download full report

The report is one of the outputs of Amnesty International’s Demand Dignity campaign

Source: Amnesty International, 07 Jul 2010 ; Amy Agnew, Livewire, 07 Jul 2010