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Reducing the risk of sexual violence in emergencies

A list of important steps to reduce the risk of sexual violence in the case of an emergency

2006 Available in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish

Footsteps magazine issues on a wooden desk.

From: Human rights – Footsteps 66

Respecting and standing up for our own rights and the rights of others

  • Design and locate camps for refugees or internally displaced people in consultation with refugees and displaced people to increase physical security.
  • Ensure that public water points, latrines and other facilities (schools, health posts) are located in secure areas and within easy walking distance of people’s shelters.
  • Where possible, assist each family to have its own latrine, and provide tools and materials for this.
  • Public sanitary facilities for men and women should be separate, especially for bathing.
  • Ensure there are women health staff, security staff and interpreters.
  • Include women in the distribution of shelter, food and other supplies.
  • Provide clothing and sanitary packs for girls and women.
  • Provide fuel-efficient stoves to reduce the need for firewood, as women are vulnerable when they go to collect firewood.
  • Include women in camp decision-making processes about health, sanitation, reproductive health and food distribution.
  • Ensure communities are informed about the services available for survivors of violence, such as emergency medical help. Identify those who are particularly at risk such as orphans and single female-headed households.
  • Identify, train and support community-based support workers to prevent, recognise and respond to gender-based violence, to provide emotional support, information, referral and advocacy.
  • Train women in their rights, such as refugee status.
  • Develop support groups for survivors of gender-based violence and their families.

Adapted from Protecting the Future: HIV Prevention, Care and Support Among Displaced and War-Affected Populations, IRC, Kumarian Press, 2003.

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