Rape: For Haiti's Displaced Women & Girls The Trauma Continues
I’ve been sitting here for well over an hour, searching for words to convey the heaviness I feel regarding the plight of Haiti’s women and girls, who having survived the January Earthquake, must now endure rape and abuse in their makeshift tent homes — in epidemic numbers.
Was rape an issue in Haiti before the Earthquake? Absolutely. However, with their male support (fathers, brothers, husbands and boyfriends) and community networks lost, Haiti’s displaced women and girls are exposed more than ever to gender violence often being rendered by gang rapes.
To compound the matter (if that’s even possible) add a non-existent judicial system capable of pursuing complaints and/or prosecuting accused offenders.
Scary to imagine the residual impact on the victim’s health care. How many of the women and girls will be exposed to sexually transmitted diseases requiring treatment? How many will contract HIV/AIDS? How many of these rapes will result in pregnancy, posing yet another life challenge for the victim?
Admittedly, nothing in terms of Haitian Relief is moving fast enough for me — or for anyone else I know. Hopefully in terms of incumbent Presidential priorities, migrating the 1.5 million displaced Haitians to stable, secure housing will top the list.
In the interim, are there options to provide these women and girls with better protection and security?
Couldn’t female-only camps be considered for single women and girls? Couldn’t there be a specialized task force dedicated to addressing complaints and ensuring victims safety?
Please read the recent report compiled by Madre and the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) ~ Our Bodies Are Still Trembling: Haitian Women’s Fight Against Rape. The number of assaults being reported are staggering and speak to the urgency of the crisis.
Let’s commit to not allowing the Haitian people to get lost in high-profile presidential elections and media hype.
They need our advocacy. They are suffering and need our assistance — today.