Haiti: Report Finds Sexual Violence Rampant in Displacement Camps
Friday, January 20, 2012 10:40 AM

Two years after the massive earthquake in Port-Au-Prince, the International Federation of Red Cross estimates that over 600,000 people are still homeless. MADRE teamed up with a number of other women’s rights groups to report on the effect homelessness has on women’s health and safety in Haiti. The study, “Struggling to Survive: Sexual Exploitation of Displaced Women and Girls in Port-Au-PrinceHaiti," found that gender-based violence is still rampant and that “survival sex” is common for girls and women.

Ms. Yifat Susskind, MADRE Executive Director, says that women and girls “are still routinely targeted with sexual violence. Vulnerability to rape is the result of conditions in the camps that have barely improved since the earthquake.” The displacement camps have poor lighting, poor security, and provide only a limited amount of shelter. In addition to these meager living conditions, girls and women face “survival sex,” or sex in exchange for survival goods, such as food and water. This type of sexual exploitation arising from natural and human-made disasters is not new, but the lack of security and police patrols in the camps accelerated the crisis in Haiti.

Struggling to Survive” was the result of combined efforts by the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic at CUNY School of Law, the University of California Hastings College of the Law’s Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, NYU Law’s Global Justice Clinic, under the leadership of The Commission of Women Victims for Victims in Haiti (a division of MADRE). Ms. Susskind said that “Haitian women have been courageous in demanding an end to this violence.” One positive result of these demands is a new draft law proposed to combat rape. Unfortunately, the report and demands come at a time when international aid is being greatly reduced. Advocates feel that in order to address the reported 22% rate of sexual assault of internally displaced persons, the world community will need to continue to provide support to this vulnerable group of girls and women.

Compiled from: Sexual Violence in Haiti’s Displacement Camps Still ‘Rampant’ Says New Report, Women’s News Network (12 January 2012).