Shortly after the devastating 2004 tsunami struck South India in December 2004, an OXFAM research study estimated that around eighty per cent of all fatalities had been female. Women and children in coastal regions were particularly affected. Since they are usually expected to stay at home, many lacked the physical ability and confidence to give them a fighting chance. Women in India tend also to be discouraged from learning how to swim, and they generally fear going near the ocean. Confidence and physical experience were key factors preventing them from finding refuge in trees, on roofs, or on higher ground.

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