Haiti: Sexual violence against women increasing

// 6 January 2011

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January 2011 Amnesty report cover.jpg

In a new report released today, Amnesty International has found that women and girls living in Haiti’s makeshift camps face an increasing risk of rape and sexual violence. Those responsible are reported to be predominately armed men who roam the camps after dark.

The 38-page document, Aftershocks: Women speak out against sexual violence in Haiti’s camps, published nearly a year after the earthquake, found that more than 250 cases of rape in several of the makeshift camps were reported in the first 150 days after the earthquake and rape survivors continue to arrive at the office of a local women’s support group almost every other day.

“Women, already struggling to come to terms with losing their loved ones, homes and livelihoods in the earthquake, now face the additional trauma of living under the constant threat of sexual attack,” said Gerardo Ducos, Amnesty International’s Haiti researcher.

“For the prevalence of sexual violence to end, the incoming government must ensure that the protection of women and girls in the camps is a priority. This has so far been largely ignored in the response to the wider humanitarian crisis.”

Amnesty reports that, although sexual violence was widespread in Haiti before January 2010, it has been exacerbated by the conditions since the earthquake. The limited assistance the authorities previously provided has been undermined by the destruction of police stations and court houses. This has made it more difficult to report sexual violence. The response by police officers to survivors of rape is described as inadequate. Many survivors of rape have said that when they sought police help they were told officers could do nothing.

Amnesty is calling for the new Haitian government to urgently take steps to end violence against women as part of a wider plan to address the humanitarian effort. Amnesty’s report insists that women in the camps must be fully involved in developing any such plan. Immediate steps should include improving security in the camps and ensuring that police are able to respond effectively and that those responsible are prosecuted, the report says.

Over 50 survivors of sexual violence shared their experiences with Amnesty International for the study, a PDF copy of which can be downloaded directly from here.

Comments From You

sianushka // Posted 6 January 2011 at 9:10 am

I love the fact that we can have this article on the F word and know that people aren’t going to turn up going ‘yeah, but men are suffering in the camps too’. this is a truly awful humanitarian crisis that had it’s ‘moment’ in the news and has now been forgotten about, the news has stayed steadily silent on the after effects and horrifying impact of the earthquake on a country that already had high rates (i think i read a while ago?) of sexual violence.

what can we do to help?

Amnesty International // Posted 6 January 2011 at 12:23 pm

There is no security for the women and girls in the camps. They feel abandoned and vulnerable to being attacked. Armed gangs attack at will; safe in the knowledge that there is still little prospect that they will be brought to justice. Watch our video here and help us raise international awareness to end violence against women in Haiti.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8xb94sfIEQ

jass // Posted 6 January 2011 at 12:32 pm

I cannot imagine living in such terrifying circumstances. It breaks my heart that men would take such violent advantage of this situation.

In addition, I find it sickening that the after math of these disasters is never shown on the news. Especially issues such as this, which is very real to the residents of Haiti.

I’m with sianushka, lets do something to help!

Boner Killer // Posted 6 January 2011 at 5:48 pm

Thank you for posting this. Often, women get left out of the headlines when crises occur, as they are consistently made invisible by the media and by society. It saddens me this is occurring, but thank you for bringing it to light, I will try and share it the best I can to make the invisible, visible.

polly // Posted 7 January 2011 at 12:13 pm

Whilst I have no doubt that there is a high level ofsexual violence against women in Haiti, (there is sexual violence against women everywhere in the world I can think of and I’m sure that if we ever had similar situation in the UK, there would be opportunistic sexual attacks), there are a lot of problems with racism in attitudes to Haiti post earthquake – implying some kind of unique ‘savagery’.

http://racerelations.about.com/b/2010/01/17/haiti-earthquake-coverage-falls-short.htm

I’m not saying that’s what motivated the Amnesty study, but we should be very wary about implying in any way there is something unique about Haiti.

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