Haiti: Two Reports Released Documenting the Increase in Sexual Assault
Monday, January 31, 2011 8:50 AM

Recently, there have been two reports released documenting the prevalence of sexual assault in Haiti. Both reports find that women and children are at an increasingly high risk of sexual assault due to the lack of security, inadequate shelters, and a lack of prosecution.


To read more in depth about each report, please see below.


Aftershocks: Women Speak Out Against Sexual Violence in Haiti's Camps


A recently released report by Amnesty International emphasizes that women and children continue to face an increasingly severe risk of sexual violence in Haiti. According to data collected for the study, more than 250 cases of rape were reported in the 150 days immediately following the devastating earthquake.

One of the greatest factors contributing to the high rate of sexual violence is the significant lack of security and safe shelters in camps for those who have been displaced. More than a year since the earthquake, over one million people are still living in unplanned tent cities. According to research by Amnesty International, effective lighting and police patrols are absent in most camps.

Further intensifying the rate of sexual violence is a pervasive sense that the justice system is incapable of responding to reports of sexual violence. Despite the high number of reported rapes, the government of Haiti has yet to successfully prosecute even one case. Many of the victims who spoke with Amnesty International revealed that the police claimed they were unable to take any action.

Few women have access to appropriate care following a sexual attack. Many women and children noted in the study that they did not have enough money for medical treatment or transportation to a clinic.

Compiled from: Aftershocks: Women Speak Out Against Sexual Violence in Haiti's Camps, Haiti: Sexual Violence Against Women Increasing, WUNRN.com, (11 January 2010).

Our Bodies Are Still Trembling: Haitian Women Continue to Fight Against Rape

An update released by MADRE, CUNY Law School, and the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti provides a harrowing picture of the prevalence of rape in camps for internally displaced persons. The report also outlines the groundbreaking issuance of precautionary measures by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) in response to this epidemic.

According to the report, a lack of access to satisfactory food, shelter, lighting, and sanitation fuels desperation and renders women extremely vulnerable. Surveys conducted in recent months, show that only ten to twenty percent of displaced individuals possess tents, and even tents provide little protection against sexual violence.

Other factors highlighted by the report as contributing to the high incidence of rape in Haiti include political instability and a police force often unwilling to pursue rapists, both of which create a culture of impunity. KOFAVIV, the Commission of Women Victims for Victims, noted that a significant spike in the number of rape cases occurred during the protests of the presidential election.

Due to the gravity of this crisis, lawyers from a number of international organizations petitioned the IACHR to grant a request for precautionary measures. The government of Haiti did not respond to the petition, and the IACHR decided to issue the requested measures. The decision calls for Haiti to ensure that appropriate medical care is available for victims, implement effective security measures, provide training for public officials on how to respond to complaints of sexual violence, establish special units to investigate rape claims and other gender-based violence, and include women’s groups in the planning and implementation of policies.

This issuance of precautionary measures is particularly noteworthy in that it is the first time such a decision has recognized the state’s responsibility to protect women from private actors. In addition, the precautionary measures are unique in applying to all women and girls rather than specific women.

Compiled from: Our Bodies Are Still Trembling: Haitian Women Continue to Fight Against Rape, WUNRN.com, (18 January 2011).