Double Trouble: Girls in Major Humanitarian Emergencies Face Increased Risks

Typhoon Haiyan dealt a one-two punch to young women in the Philippines

Shortly after the ferocious Typhoon Haiyan ripped through the Philippines last November, killing 6,155 people and leaving 4 million displaced, seven teenagers vanished from the badly hit village of Legazpi on the island of Samar. Rhoda Ercilla of aid agency Plan International noticed their absence but was told they had been offered work in a bakery in another city. "I was suspicious, so I asked the parents to check. It turned out their daughters had been trafficked as sex workers." She reported the trafficker to the police, who are trying to bring the girls home.
The case highlights what Plan International calls the double jeopardy faced by girls in huge humanitarian emergencies. Young women are at risk twice over: Not only do they have to struggle for basic survival amid a lack of food and shelter, they also face the dangers of rape, forced marriage, and sex trafficking. "Teen girls are often invisible or neglected in the aftermath of catastrophes, when there is an enormous number of people who need help," says Dr. Unni Krishnan, Plan International's head of disaster preparedness and response.
To protect young women during the continuing recovery effort following Typhoon Haiyan, Plan International is mobilizing teams of mostly female local volunteers in the worst-hit areas. "We train volunteers to be aware of the dangers of trafficking, abuse, and rape, and to provide emotional support," says Krishnan. The organization has conducted similar trainings in India, Bangladesh, and Mali. The little things are important, like ensuring girls have flashlights to use at night, he says. "Ultimately, our goal is to empower young women so they can learn to protect themselves as much as possible."
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
More from Marie Claire:
Politics
Share
Barbara Pierce Bush Will Be the Keynote Speaker at an Upcoming Planned Parenthood Event
Politics
Share
The White House Banned Several Media Outlets from a Press Meeting
hospital emergency room
Politics
Share
This Is Real: Deportation Agents Detain a Woman About to Get Emergency Surgery
Politics
Share
Ivanka Trump Dreamed up a $500 Billion Child-Care Plan for Rich, Dual-Income Families
Politics
Share
Melania Would Have Been Deported Under Donald Trump's New Immigration Rules
Sexist billboard
Politics
Share
A Billboard in North Carolina Insinuates "Real Women" Don't Want Gender Equality
secular pro-life anti-abortion millennial women
Politics
Share
Meet the Pro-Life Millennials
Letter about equal pay written by Utah's Wasatch GOP chair James C. Green.
Politics
Share
Justice Tastes So Sweet: This Republican Politician Resigned After Saying Equal Pay for Women Is Unfair to Men
Golf course
Politics
Share
Trump Has Spent More Time Golfing Than Going to Intelligence Briefings
Politics
Share
Police Arrest DAPL Protestors at Standing Rock for Defying Evacuation Deadline