Spike in Sexual Violence Against Women in Haiti
Monday, August 3, 2009 12:08 PM

The humanitarian organization Doctors without Borders reported an alarming rise in reported cases of sexual violence against women in Haiti last year.  According to the organization, incidents of raped women and girls rose from 1,100 cases in 2007 to 1,600 cases in 2008.

Haiti has a turbulent past, particularly in the area of sexual violence.  Following the removal of popularly elected President Aristide in 2004, Haiti became an extremely dangerous country for women.  Many armed groups used violence against women as a means of forwarding their agendas.  Additionally, there are societal and cultural obstacles in Haiti that inhibit a woman's freedom to report incidents of rape to the authorities.

This dangerous situation led the Haitian interim president, Boniface Alexandre, to request United Nations (UN) peacekeeping forces to protect the female population of the country.  Following this request, the UN Security Council passed resolution 1529, which authorized the U.N. Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).  Troops under MINUSTAH are charged with protecting endangered portions of the populace and promoting stability.

Some groups credit the presence of MINUSTAH with the increase in reports of rape.  According to Nicole Magloire, the executive secretary of the Haitian Violence Against Women National Group:  "[n]ow, women feel more protected to report/denounce cases of violence and partially for this reason we are receiving more cases."

Compiled from
Valeria Vilardo, "HAITI: Women 'More Protected' to Report Sexual Violence," Inter Press Service News Agency (July 22, 2009); "United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti," United Nations; "Don't turn your back on girls - Sexual violence in Haiti," Amnesty International (November 27, 2008).