Psychosocial support for survivors of gender-based violence in flood zones

31 March 2016
Women displaced by the 2015 floods, now living in the Tedim camp in Chin state.
Women displaced by the 2015 floods, now living in the Tedim camp in Chin state.

“Many of the women in these areas have lost their homes and have been re-located to Internally Displaced Persons camps. They feel scared when they leave their tents to use the bathroom, or to gather wood to make fires, because they are often harassed by local men. Many have previously come from violent homes so they are already fragile,” says UNFPA GBV Officer Seinn Le Le Htet. 

During the training in Chin state, many of the male participants initially denied that GBV problems existed in their villages. They believed that any beatings or violence that occurs in the home were a normal part of life. 

“In some areas of Chin, if a man rapes a woman, he can redeem himself by compensating her family. He must buy the family anything from a bag of sugar, or rice, to a pig or a cow. If they accept the gift, the rape is forgiven, and forgotten, but not by these women,” says Seinn Le Le Htet. 

The training has changed the perception of GBV and has increased awareness of the vulnerability of many of the women in villages and camps. It has also provided the means by which local and community organizations can respond to psychosocial support needs of women and girls. Participants can now successfully identify GBV cases and treat them accordingly. They have also gained skills and knowledge that they can pass on to peers in their own and other organizations. 

UNFPA rolled out the psychosocial support training across Chin, Sagaing, Magway, Rakhine, northern Shan and in Yangon, providing capacity to 194 women and men. Participants who showed an aptitude and an interest in continuing to contribute to Myanmar’s capacity for psychosocial support were entered into a new register of local case workers. The register will serve to support immediate psychosocial responses in future emergencies. It will also build a community of practice across the country as additional training sessions are organized.

The Tedim camp in Chin state, hosting communities who remain unable to return home after the 2015 floods.