Post-tsunami aid has disproportionately assisted men, leaving women survivors in continuing poverty, according to a report by the Alliance of Women Affected by the Tsunami. Based on 7,000 interviews of women in Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Thailand, India and Somalia, the group of 174 organizations sponsored by the Sri Lanka-based Action Aid International stated that, “Women were left out of consultations, formulation of policies and design of programs for relief operations, camp management, damage and needs assessments, allocation of houses and land, and the rebuilding of livelihoods.” In addition, women in relief camps continue to face poverty, violence, and lack of privacy.
The report also noted that women who were older, single, or had disabilities were especially vulnerable in the post-tsunami period because government compensation and rehabilitation programs tend to recognize men as the head of households. It also said there has been increasing sex tourism in the coastal areas of the tsunami-affected regions, as a result of new hotels being built.
The December 26, 2004, tsunami killed an estimated 230,000 people and displaced another 1.5 million. The authors hope the report’s timely release, just days before a summit of South Asian leaders in New Delhi, will encourage governments to address the critical needs of women survivors of the tsunami and provide them with better protection.