Women who survived the 2004 Asian tsunami face heightened risks of violence, impoverishment and lack of privacy at relief camps in several nations, a report released on Saturday said.
In many places, women were more vulnerable to abuse by men after the tsunami uprooted their traditional way of life, the report by 174 organisations, including ActionAid International, said..
"They would often beat their wives after getting drunk and would force them to have sex in the camps, sometimes in front of children," said Sriyani Perera, ActionAid International's women rights coordinator for Asia.
The report covered five countries -- Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Thailand, India and Somalia -- and more than 7,000 women were interviewed.
In the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu where more than 7,000 people died when the monstrous waves struck on Dec. 26 over two years ago, some women who lost their houses or livelihood had to sell their kidneys to make ends meet,
"We were shifted to a place where there was no work and no food to feed our children," a woman from Tamil Nadu was quoted as saying in the report. Her name was not given.
"I sold my kidney and got a small amount. They did not give me the promised amount. Now I am suffering with heavy abdominal pain and I can't work."
The report said women were often not consulted in the distribution of relief -- material or financial -- and men often misused funds for drinking, leading to further abuse of women.
Single and older women as well as those with disabilities were particularly vulnerable in the post-tsunami rehabilitation period.
On Dec. 26, 2004, giant waves triggered by one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded pulverised villages along Indian Ocean shores. Around 230,000 people were killed or went missing. Another 1.5 million were left homeless.
South Asian nations were severely hit by the tsunami with tens of thousands killed across Sri Lanka, India and the Maldives.
The report said sex tourism was on the rise in coastal areas of tsunami-affected regions in India as hotels were being built near the shoreline.
Poor women, especially from devastated fishing communities, were particularly vulnerable to exploitation.
"The government doesn't allow fishermen to live within 500 metres (1,650 feet) of the seashore," Magline, 38, who is from a fishing community in the southern Indian state of Kerala, told Reuters.
"The coast has been leased to sand miners and hotels leading to influx of outsiders," she said. "This has affected our local culture and given rise to sex tourism."
The report has been released ahead of a summit of South Asian leaders in New Delhi from April 3-4 and its authors want the governments to pay heed to the plight of women survivors of the tsunami and provide them better protection.