12 March 2011

How Will Japan's Earthquake and Tsunami Affect Women?

What's happened in Japan over the last 48 hours is terrible enough.  Indeed, the earthquake that hit is much stronger than the one that devastated Haiti last year.  Worse, the quake in Japan triggered tsunami that caused even more destruction.

But the most catastrophic event so far may turn out to be the damage to two nuclear power plants.  News reports say there still could be a meltdown at one of the nuclear power plants damaged by the earthquake.  

Naturally, no one save for members of the Westboro Baptist Church (and other groups whose members' hatred of this planet and humanity seems, at times to greatly exceed their professed love of God) want such a thing to happen.  But I fear that it may be the only way that some so-called experts will actually belive that nuclear power generation has more risks than rewards.

I find myself thinking of the threats to women's health.  There were more birth defects and other genetic, reproductive and other health problems in the wake of Chernobyl's disaster.  It seems that even women who aren't of reproductive age or can't or won't have children are more affected by environmental health problems than men are.  So, as you can imagine, I wonder whether I may also be more vulnerable than men, or at least than I was when I lived as a man.

Whatever my risks, it's undeniable that women are at greater risk for breast and other kinds of cancer as a result of intentional or unintentional releases of radiation.  So, it's hard not to think of any such disaster, and the response to it, as a women's issue.