Climate change leading to rise in domestic violence in South Asian countries, study shows

KARACHI: It comes as no surprise that the world is reeling with the consequences of climate change. Last year, Pakistan was at the receiving end of it with extreme floods and this year, other South Asian countries such as India and Nepal are also suffering with rising temperatures. But with the heat wave comes another issue and that is a rise in domestic violence which is directly proportional to the climate change.

In a study that was published by the JAMA Psychiatry, it was revealed that a 1C increase in the average annual temperature was directly linked to a 6.3% increase in physical and sexual domestic abuse incidents in Pakistan, India and Nepal. The study had a focus group of 194,871 girls from the three countries, between the ages of 15-49, from the years 2010 to 2018. It compared the pattern of emotional, physical and sexual violence to the temperature fluctuations. As per the study, India, which already reported the highest rates of partner violence, had the highest increase in violence with an increase of one degree came a 8% rise in physical and 7.3% rise in sexual violence. As per the research, the climate change related violence existed in all income groups but was predominant in lower incomes and rural households.

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As per Michelle Bell, a professor of environmental health at Yale University and a co-author of the study, there are “many potential pathways, both physiological and sociological, through which higher temperature could affect risk of violence”. High temperatures can trap people indoors and unable to work resulting in high stress levels which lead to domestic abuse incidents. The Indian activist Suniti Gargi explained how the equation works, “They cause tremendous economic stress in families. If a man can migrate to another state to get work, it can help keep the home fires burning but when he cannot for whatever reason, his wife is at the receiving end of his anger and feelings of uselessness.”

Despite the fact that countries like Pakistan only contribute towards 1% of the world’s carbon emissions, they are the worst to suffer from climate change.

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