Gender-based domestic violence is set to be driven by global warming and climate change.
That’s according to research conducted by the University of Cambridge, revealing that extreme weather drives poverty, famine, infrastructure instability and mental stress.
These are seen as key driving factors for domestic abuse, as anger, violence and frustration are taken out on others.
During the last two decades, the frequency of extreme weather events has increased by 134%, affecting four billion people and killing more than 300,000.
This number is only expected to rise as greenhouse gas emissions climb, along with temperatures.
In poorer nations, these events have not only economically crippled many households; breakdowns in healthcare, security, safety and policing have also occurred – with less infrastructure in place to keep these institutions running and therefore less protection for many women.
The researchers looked directly into how storms, floods, droughts and heatwaves have impacted the lives of women across the globe, finding that climate change is exacerbating the situation.
There is variation in how much this is affecting domestic violence, based on access to legal protection, social gender norms and cultural traditions – however, evidence was found that across the six major continents, adverse weather conditions was having an impact regardless of the level.
Kim van Daalen, a scholar involved in the study, said: “At the root of this behaviour are systematic social and patriarchal structures that enable and normalise such violence. Existing social roles and norms, combined with inequalities leading to marginalisation, discrimination and dispossession make women, girls and sexual and gender minorities disproportionately vulnerable to the adverse impacts of extreme events.”
She added: “Disaster management needs to focus on preventing, mitigating and adapting to drivers of gender-based violence.
“It’s crucial that it’s informed by the women, girls, and sexual and gender minority populations affected and takes into account local sexual and gender cultures and local norms, traditions, and social attitudes.”