Target: Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children
Goal: Incorporate rape prevention and rape crisis management into all emergency response and disaster relief plans.
As the Ebola outbreak spread across West Africa in 2014, communities saw an spike in instances of rape, sexual assault, and violence against women and girls. In Sierra Leone, some communities saw a 65 percent increase of teenage pregnancies, according to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The women and girls who are already victims of a disaster, epidemic, or crisis end up suffering as double victims in these situations, where they are not getting the rape crisis management, and the men of the communities are not getting the rape prevention training that they need for the safety of their communities.
According to the UNDP, there was a steady, upward trend of sexual and gender-based violence in April through July of 2014, when the Ebola outbreak was reaching its peak. Then, as the Ebola crisis began to subside, the trend of sexual and gender-based violence began to show a slight decrease in August through October. This rise of sexual assault and violence reflects similar patterns of increase of sexual violence in times of outbreaks of infectious diseases, civil unrest, or instability across the globe, for example, during the Rwandan genocide.
Considering the correlation between times of crisis and sexual assault, it is vital that we provide training about rape and sexual assault when they provide disaster relief. “We just didn’t have the capacity to think beyond the epidemic,” said Kaci Hickox, a nurse who worked in a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Ebola treatment unit in Sierra Leone in 2014. “We definitely did not have training about rape or sexual assault, mainly because of the magnitude of this outbreak.” Though the size and urgency to contain an outbreak should make the outbreak itself a priority, we must recognize the importance of facing problems that go hand in hand with a large-scale crisis in order to protect the victims.
By signing the petition below, you will urge the President and CEO of Save the Children to incorporate rape prevention and rape crisis response into all emergency action and relief plans. Women cannot become even greater victims during times of crisis.
Dear President Miles,
Save the Children provides invaluable emergency response and disaster relief to vulnerable communities across the globe. During the Ebola epidemic, the efforts of Save the Children were a large contribution to the containment of the disease, however there was still a victimized group that needed protection. Women and girls increasingly became victims of sexual assault and violence as the epidemic increased.
Times of civil unrest, outbreak of infectious disease, or war all see an increase of gender- and sexual-based violence. If Save the Children is going to tackle the problem of infectious disease relief, it is imperative that all sides of this epidemic are responded to. The women and young girls need rape crisis management and rape prevention in times of crisis.
I am urging you to incorporate rape prevention and rape crisis management into all emergency response and disaster relief plans. Please take actions to enforce policies that protect women from sexual assault, disease, and unwanted pregnancy.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: UK Department for International Development