New York, NY (BBN)– The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is seeking to prevent and respond to gender-based violence against women and girls among the more than 20 million victims of Pakistan’s recent floods.

“Crises like the floods that inundated much of the country in August break down social networks and systems that normally protect women and girls, such as cohesive families, livelihoods, and safe shelter,” UNFPA said in a press statement on Friday, noting that it is providing financial and technical aid for health care and psychosocial support to victims of such violence.

“Displacement creates a host of risk factors that increase the vulnerability of women and girls to many forms of violence. The rights, needs and vulnerabilities of women and girls are sometimes overlooked in emergencies, when many humanitarian actors are focused on reaching a large number of people in the shortest period of time,” it added.

The subject of gender-based violence is sensitive in most societies, and particularly so in Pakistan, where it is rarely discussed, said UNFPA. Programs that address the problem do so discretely, but experts say there is a huge gap in service provision.
UNFPA has undertaken capacity-building initiatives in Khyber Pakhtunkwa, Punjab and Sindh provinces, introducing participants and future trainers from Government and humanitarian agencies to basic principles to fight the scourge, including case management, using a confidential, survivor-centered, and comprehensive approach.

As part of a coordinated inter-agency response, UNFPA and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are co-leading response and prevention efforts. Donors have provided over $1 million to UNFPA to support such services.

BBN/SI/ANS-27Nov10-12:18 pm (BST)