Rape In Haiti: New Report Finds 70% Of Camps Lack Proper Management
A new report tells of one woman whose tongue was bitten off when she was raped by a group of armed men while taking out her trash, and a child who died when a landowner set fire to a camp on his property.
The report, issued by the group Refugees International, has uncovered a lack of proper management in camps that house one million people displaced in the Haiti earthquake nine months ago. Their findings indict the United States and the International Organization for Migration, which manages 1,300 camps:
The International Organization for Migration (IOM), a mainly U.S. funded organization, is responsible for coordination and management of the camps in Haiti, and RI found on a recent field visit that less than 30 percent of the camps have managers.
In the absence of managers, the group found, gang leaders have taken control of some of the camps. Cases of rape and brutality against women are on the rise, according to the report, with three times the number of incidents of sexual violence reported as before the earthquake. The violence is leading to unplanned pregnancies, according to the group’s press release: “The teenage pregnancy rate is extremely high in the camps, and medical agencies told RI that they are receiving large numbers of cases of failed ‘street abortions,’ some from girls as young as ten years old.” With little protection from outside groups, women have taken control of their own protection:
Some local women have established their own groups in the camps to protect women from attack and have developed self-defense trainings, security patrols, and gender-based violence (GBV) awareness-raising sessions. This work has made some of these women a target for death threats.
As GAB’s previous coverage of rape in Haiti has shown, the outside relief effort has failed to stop the violence. According to Refugees International, IOM has about 700 staff in Haiti, but only three are protection officers. One UN Police spokesman even appeared to deny the rapes were happening. For more on what women are doing to heal and protect each other, see two amazing projects brought to GAB’s attention by one of our readers: the “Box of grief,” in which women write anonymous letters about their experiences that are later read aloud to the group, and “Breaking Silence by SMS,” in which women can send anonymous text messages about rape or trafficking and help create a map of incidents in the camps.