Today UNFPA launches their annual ‘State of world population’ rapport globally, including here in Islamabad. This year the rapport focusses on how conflict and crises effects women and children. You can read or download the rapport on the UNFPA website.
Besides launching the rapport, UNFPA Pakistan is also hosting an exhibition, and I am very glad an honored that 13 of my post-flood photographs are included in the exhibition accompanying this launch. The work will travel all over Pakistan to the other UNFPA offices in the country and hopefully they will be viewable to the general public as well. (Sadly that was not the case in Islamabad which was an invitation only event.) I’ll post some photographs of the event and how the exhibit looked like, once I’ve received them from Islamabad.
‘Women rarely wage war, but they too often suffer the worst of its consequences.
Gender-based violence, including rape, is a repugnant and increasingly familiar weapon of war. The immediate toll it takes extends far beyond its direct victims, insidiously tearing apart families and shattering societies for generations to come. ….
In many of today’s conflicts, women are disempowered by rape or the threat of it, and by the HIV infection, trauma and disabilities that often result from it. Girls are disempowered when they cannot go to school because of the threat of violence, when they are abducted or trafficked, or when their families disintegrate or must flee. In some conflicts, men are also disempowered by sexual violence. Boys, too, are sometimes exploited or forced to become soldiers.’ Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director, UNFPA, extract from the foreword of the State of world population 2010 rapport
Conflict and crisis is of course nothing new for the women and children in Pakistan. Over the past two years Taliban and other extremist have terrorized people, burning down schools and killing hundreds in suicide bombings all over the country. And 3 months ago a devastating flood caused so much damage throughout the entire length of Pakistan, displacing around 20 million people.
Here as well, women and children are the most vulnerable. Conditions in the camps are especially hard on pregnant women, newborns and elderly who have lost everything they own and are now sleeping on bare floors with no protection from the harsh environment. Often in places where they cannot communicate because of their dialect. Children often receive no schooling and have no activities or things to play with. With education being the key to so many of the worlds problems, this sets them back yet again even further.
‘Experience shows that gender-based violence does not occur in a vacuum. It is usually a symptom of a larger problem, one of failed institutions, of norms that perpetuate or tolerate abuse, of dangerously skewed gender relations and entrenched inequalities. War and disaster do not cause gender-based violence, but they often exacerbate it or allow it to strike with greater frequency.’ UNFPA State of world Population 2010