New Delhi (AsiaNews) – Women are the most vulnerable survivors of the 2004 tsunami; they continue to live in conditions of total misery and exploitation, caused by the discrimination politics of many of the Indian Ocean countries. The warning was launched by a report compiled by “the Alliance of Women Effected by Tsunami”, which has analyzed the situation in Sri Lanka, India, Maldives, Thailand and Somalia based on over 7500 interviews. The document’s authors ask that concrete actions to relieve the sufferance of this category be seriously studied during the Summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc), which opens tomorrow in New Delhi.
The report finds that women from South East Asia who survived the December 26th 2004 are subjected to abuse and violence by their husbands who waste economic aid on “alcohol and gambling”, but also by the sexual tourism industry which exploits their poverty forcing them to prostitute themselves.
Sriyani Perera, Action Aid International’s women rights coordinator for Asia, explains that “The men would often beat their wives after getting drunk and would force them to have sex sometimes in front of children, in the camps,” where many tsunami homeless still live. Sriyani recalls the tragedy of widows from Tamil Nadu, Southern India, who sell their kidneys to buy food for their children, but never receive the promised sum.
The report said that sex tourism was on the rise in coastal areas of the tsunami-affected regions of India as hotels were being built near the shoreline. Poor women, especially from devastated fishing communities, were particularly vulnerable to exploitation.
Moreover it states that aid distribution is also discriminatory: Government compensation and rehabilitation programs most often recognize men as the heads of households, which results in women - particularly single, older or disabled women - being left out of such efforts.
The tsunami which struck 3 years ago killed over 230 thousand people and left almost 1.5 million others without homes in the effected countries.