Dimensions of power and gender based violence in post-disaster societies : A case study on Haiti after the 2010 earthquake

University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för samhällsstudier (SS)

Abstract: Haiti experienced the greatest urban disaster of international history in 2010 when the county was hit by an earthquake which triggered one of the largest responses of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts ever identified. The Haitian population was harshly affected by the earthquake, killing approximately 200 000 people, injuring 300 000 and displacing over 2,3 million. Reports from the post-disaster period also revealed that gender inequalities were growing deeper and that cases of sexual based violence against women and girls increased massively. The history of Haiti shows similar patterns of discrimination and gender based violence against women and children. Research upon gender based violence in the aftermath of disaster presents that disastrous events such as an earthquake, often is followed by an increase in gender based – and sexual gender based violence. Disasters could also provide a window of opportunity for change of  traditional roles and social norms in societies where they are deeply rooted. In order to seize this opportunity disaster management needs to acknowledge and adapt to gendered needs and capacities in all stages of disaster relief efforts in order to provide these opportunities for the subordinated gender. This research is studying the responsive policies of the Haitian government in the aftermath of the earthquake 2010, presented in the Action Plan for National Recovery and Development of Haiti. The aim is to investigate if any exercises of power could be observed to have affected the increase of gender based violence and sexual gender based violence for women and children in the post-earthquake responsive period. The study will be carried out as a text-analysing, desk study and by applying the theoretical framework of Steven Lukes three-dimensional power approach and the theory of radical feminism abductively. The findings of this research presents that power exercises by the government can be observed to have affected the increase of gender based – as well as sexual gender based violence in the period of study.

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