Autumn leaves under the water. In memory of the victims of the tsunami. Tofukuji Temple, Kyoto @ Jan Oberg 2004

Women and the tsunami


January 27, 2006: Censored News Stories of 2005
Project Censored: Top 10 Project Censored News Stories
U.S. Uses Tsunami to Military Advantage in Southeast Asia

"The American people reacted to the tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean last December with an outpouring of compassion and private donations. Across the nation, neighbors got together to collect food, clothing, medicine and financial contributions. The White House initially offered an embarrassingly low $15 million in aid. More importantly, the government exploited the catastrophe to its own strategic advantage. Establishing a stronger military presence in the area could help the United States keep closer tabs on China. It could also fortify an important military launching ground and help consolidate control over potentially lucrative trade routes. The United States currently operates a base out of Diego Garcia—a former British mandate about halfway between Africa and Indonesia, but the lease runs out in 2016. Consequently, in the name of relief, the U.S. revived the Utapao military base in Thailand it had used during the Vietnam War and reactivated its military cooperation agreements with Thailand and the Visiting Forces Agreement with the Philippines."

Sources: "US Turns Tsunami into Military Strategy," Jane's Foreign Report, Feb. 15, 2005; "US Has Used Tsunami to Boost Aims in Stricken Area," Rahul Bedi, Irish Times, Feb. 8, 2005; "Bush Uses Tsunami Aid to Regain Foothold in Indonesia," Jim Lobe, Inter Press Service, Jan. 18, 2005.

Support for Tsunami Victims, a message from ecofeminist Starhawk a year after the disaster struck.

Microfinance Mends Lives Washed Away by Tsunami, a report from Women's eNews by Chandani Jayatilleke

From cultivating paddy fields to starting chicken farms, women in a remote region of Sri Lanka devastated by the Asian tsunami a year ago are using tiny amounts of financing to make extraordinary recoveries.


Women and Life on Earth extends its deepest sympathies for the victims of the earthquake and tsunamis in the Indian Ocean, and their families.
This report includes various reports and opinions about the effects on women and the ecological aspects of the disaster.

New Year in the Sign of the Tsunami
30 December 2004
By Jan Oberg, Gudrun Schyman, & Christina Spännar
TFF: The Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Reseach

"It's a tragedy beyond comprehension and an early warning to us all.
Human and environmental security must now substitute military security. We need new priorities and a global ethics of care; that is what globalisation ought to be about. We must learn to respect the interrelatedness of everything - and make peace both with Mother Nature and among ourselves..."

Gender and natural disasters: points to ponder
By Rochelle Jones, based on research conducted in 2000 by the International Labour Organisation (ILO):

"Suggests that gender is an important dimension within disasters such as the Indian Ocean tsunamis. It has been argued that vulnerability to natural disasters and their consequences is gendered and socially constructed, meaning that women and men face different challenges during natural disasters because their roles in society have been constructed differently...

Women and Tsunami: a listing of articles relating to many issues faced women, during and following the disaster, on the website of Disasterwatch.

Tsunami Aftermath: Women's Human Righs Concerns in Tsunami Affected Countries
March 22, 2005, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development

..."The objectives of the report are: to express our deep concern with violations of women’s human rights in the tsunami affected countries: Indonesia , India , Sri Lanka , Thailand and Burma; to draw the attention of the United Nations - a coordinating agency of the international support to the countries affected by the tsunami, governments of the affected countries, national and international non-governmental organisations involved in rehabilitation and reconstruction processes to violations of women’s human rights and women’s specific needs that must be adequately addressed during rehabilitation process; to make recommendations on addressing women’s concerns in the above countries..."

Tsunami Killed More Women Than Men: Oxfam Report, 31 March 2005

"Up to four times as many females as males may have been killed in the tsunami, according to new research released today (three months since the tsunami), by aid agency Oxfam International. The figures are released as part of a report showing the impact of the tsunami on women. The sex imbalance is shown in stark terms by new figures in the report... The Oxfam data also reveals other aspects of how the tsunami has taken a particular toll on women...."

Sontag and Tsunami
By Rebecca Solnit
Published on Monday, January 3, 2005 by

"The news of Susan Sontag's death arrived as a single sentence spoken in the opening moments of a radio news program Tuesday morning, and then the program returned to what had been the main story since the day after Christmas: the tsunami and the death toll, then in the tens of thousands, that would continue to rise. It was strange to weigh these two incidents of mortality against each other. Though for some people it would be considered insensitive or irreverent even to do so, one of the things to be appreciated about Sontag, I think, is that she considered everything a proper occasion for more thinking, more analyzing, more writing..."

Responding to the tsunami tragedy: Women must be at the heart of rebuilding shattered communities
Statement by Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Director, United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

..."Both the immediate and long-term response must be shaped by the realities on the ground in the areas affected. In two of the worst hit areas, the province of Aceh in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, the current devastation converges with the complex consequences of decades-long civil war and, in some places, severe poverty. These forces have generated division and deprivation. But they have also led to the emergence of survival systems and mutual-aid networks, including among internally displaced and refugee communities. And women have been at the forefront of many of these..."

Call to prevent trafficking of tsunami-hit women
India Daily, 14 Jan. 2005

"Terming trafficking as the most depraved violation of human rights and dignity, NHRC Chairman, Justice A S Anand, on Thursday said the government must take immediate and effective steps to ward off "serious exploitation" of women and children in the aftermath of the devastating tsunami..."

For more information on sex trafficking: Polaris Project is a multicultural grassroots non-profit agency combating sex trafficking and modern-day slavery. We work everyday with women in the sex industry who have endured violence from their traffickers, including psychological abuse, beatings, death threats, and sexual assault. Based in the United States and Japan, our multicultural staff work closely with survivors and community members to identify victims, provide services, conduct advocacy and technical trainings, and raise awareness. Learn more about human trafficking.

Ecological considerations

Mangroves Can Act as Shield Against Tsunami
By G. Venkataramani, The Hindu, Monday 27 December 2004

"Tsunami is a rare phenomenon. Though we cannot prevent the occurrence of such natural calamities, we should certainly prepare ourselves to mitigate the impact of the natural fury on the population inhabiting the coastal ecosystems. Our anticipatory research work to preserve mangrove ecosystems as the first line of defence against devastating tidal waves on the eastern coastline has proved very relevant today..."

Deaths by Water and Environmental Degradation
27 December 2004
By J. Sri Raman t r u t h o u t | Report

..."The calamity highlights, more than anything else, the callous neglect of environment protection along the entire coastal belt of India, including Tamilnadu. A handful of environmental activists have been crying themselves hoarse over the issue, but the powers-that-be have preferred to dismiss them as cranks. At the core of the issue lies a corporate-political mesh of corruption that seeks to thrive on human misery and lives..."

Tsunamis and Nuclear Power Plants
By Russell D. Hoffman
 t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Tuesday 28 December 2004

More than 60,000 people are dead. Bodies wash ashore in a dozen countries. A train, loaded with a thousand passengers and their luggage, is swept away, engine, tracks, and all. Cars, trucks, buses, and boats are pushed more than a mile inland by the rushing water. Some of the waves were reported to be 40 feet high.
The ocean in San Diego, 1/2 a world away, rose 10 inches. It IS a small world, after all.
The "sea wall" at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station ("SONGS") in Southern California is 35 feet tall, and about 35 years old. It could not have withstood Sunday's worst....

Asian Tsunami Hails Ecological Collapse
Earth Meanders (column, can subscribe to)
By Dr. Glen Barry, 28 December 2004

"Rising seas, coastal development, over-population and loss of mangroves and coral reefs make such natural disasters more likely and deadly" Asia's recent utterly tragic tsunami was caused by a natural earthquake,but worsened by human activities.  The reactionary anti-Earth right has been quoted several times in recent days as saying it was only a matter of time until environmentalists blamed the catastrophe on global warming and other environmental causes.  Well here goes...