WMC Women Under Siege

For women displaced by war, can a new stove spell safety?

Usually, headlines about women and kitchen appliances conjure anti-feminist rhetoric. But as we've reported previously, the cooking tools that women in refugee camps use—and lack—may have a key effect on whether they're targets of rape.

Researchers have found that at some camps for those displaced by conflict, such as Dadaab in Kenya, more than 90 percent of reported sexualized violence has occurred while girls and women were searching for resources like firewood, a cooking fuel necessary to prepare the types of food humanitarian groups provide (such as rice and wheat flour). Though the UN and other groups have attempted to fix this problem by providing firewood directly to women in camps, most programs centered on cooking fuel have not seemed to decrease rates of rape.

Rather than throw more wood at the problem, an anti-genocide group based in Los Angeles called Jewish World Watch is trying a different approach. By providing solar cookers to displaced women, the organization is attempting to eliminate the need for firewood at refugee camps—allowing women to cook the food rations they receive without searching for anything but sunlight. The thinking is that women who might otherwise be attacked while foraging will have less of a reason to walk in unsafe areas.

For more about the project, see this week's story in the LA Weekly.

More articles by Category: Immigration, International, Violence against women
More articles by Tag: War, Africa, Sexualized violence



Michele Lent Hirsch
Associate Editor
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