Violence in the hungry season

Violence in the hungry season

Participation, Power and Social Change Research at IDS

Naomi HossainNaomi Hossain

Tackling violence against women and girls is rightly riding high on the development agenda and so too is food insecurity. But it has only been in the last few days, travelling around Malawi at the start of a particularly hungry season, that the direct nature of the causal link between the two has crystallised for me. Tackling violence in poor families and communities must start with protecting people’s – all people’s – rights to food.

Malawi blog 1 A boy playing at the refugee camp near Lilongwe; parents prefer to keep girls this age at home, as young girls are said to be more vulnerable to abuse during the hungry season

How does food insecurity cause sexual- and gender-based violence? I can only tell you what we heard from staff in government and UN agency facilities, including a refugee camp near Lilongwe and from women we met there. The consistency and…

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The long shadow of famine

The long shadow of famine

Participation, Power and Social Change Research at IDS

Naomi HossainNaomi Hossain

Gobindalal Das was a young journalist when in 1974 he watched a passenger jump out of a train at the northern Bangladesh town of Gaibandha and vomit on the platform. What he saw next has stayed with him forever: another man ran up to where the passenger stood vomiting and ate it. He was starving. The story Das wrote for his newspaper Dainik Bangla went, we would now say, viral, and the world heard of the famine that killed up to 1.5 million people in the new nation of Bangladesh.

This story is well known in Bangladesh, but I first heard it from the author himself when we met at the Gaibandha Press Club in October. Das compresses decades of reporting on poverty and hunger into insightful commentary on what has changed here. The famine is never far from his mind. Some say it still casts its shadow…

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