Natural disasters fall harder on women, especially in Southern Illinois, according to new research. When there’s a tornado or a flood or a heat wave or an earthquake, are the people affected differently? “We would assume that natural disasters are indiscriminate, that they hit everyone the same, they don’t choose to hit the poor neighborhood and avoid the wealthy neighborhood. But the effects are felt differently, depending on social location, and also gender,” says Shiloh L. Deitz, a sociology fellow at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, the author of Disaster and Gender in Southern Illinois.
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Southern Illinois has a lot of poverty, and a lot of people near poverty, which always makes a disaster worse, and the lack of resources in rural areas falls hard on women, who are poorer and have fewer options than men, and who are more likely than men to have children who are their sole responsibility, Deitz says.
Natural disasters also cause an as yet unexplained increase in domestic violence, which Deitz says can be aggravated by emergency or temporary housing that puts an abuser and a victim together again.