Solar lamps increase safety and reduce risk of violence
Especially women are exposed to risk of violence in darkness, but 91% of off-grid households feel safer and less exposed to threats thanks to light from solar technology.
By: Iben Bjørgulf Antonsen
40% of violence happens at night
It is hard to estimate exactly how many girls and women are exposed to gender-based violence because it is highly stigmatizing. Victims keep full discretion and incidents go unreported. Yet WHO estimated in 2014 that more than 45% of the female population in Africa, above the age of 15, have been a victim of gender-based violence.
Roughly 40% of gender-based violence in refugee camps in Kenya happens at night, and a significant number of survivors are children. Poor lighting is one of the central reasons for these attacks, the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR concludes in a report on Innovative Technology for Better Refugee Protection.
“Without the security and protection afforded by light, women and girls may not feel comfortable going out at night, even to latrines or washing areas. Darkness provides cover for crime and vandalism, and puts women and girls at risk of rape and sexual harassment”
UNHCR, Innovative Technology for Better Refugee Protection
As cited here, one of the reasons for why the UNHCR categorized the BRIGHT SunBell solar lamp as a core relief item, was its ability to establish security for girls and women through light. Connected to incidents of gender-based violence, the UNHCR Innovation Service describes how:
“the exposure to darkness in refugee settlements has regularly and consistently been linked with an increase in protection risks through hidden protection threats.”
Solar lamps creates safe spaces
With no light after sunset, there is little incentive to leave the shelter in a refugee camp, unless going to latrines. Yet going to the toilet in the darkness is linked with serious cases of violence. Solar lights are a way to “reduce the risk of sexual and gender-based violence,” as the UNHCR describes.
The global association for the off-grid solar energy industry GOGLA also concludes that lighting can reduce risk of violence and create safety:
“Access to a quality lighting source means less incidents linked to tripping or bumping into objects inside the household, outdoor lighting means reduced risk of robbery or encounter with wild animal and fewer kerosene lights means less fire related incidents or injuries,”
GOGLA, Powering Opportunity, July 2018
Light is simply not just light. When darkness conceals acts of violence, light reveals and protects. As a core relief item, the BRIGHT SunBell solar lamp has been distributed to more than two million displaced people worldwide. Besides prolonging hours of productivity after the sun sets, the solar lamp creates safe spaces and contribute to greater safety in general and for girls and women in particular.
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