According to recent statements by Larry Cox, the head of Amnesty International USA, the risk of rape has significantly increased for women and girls in Haiti, in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that struck the country in January, 2010.
A girl named Myriam was raped when she was 11. Suzie was gang-raped right before her children’s eyes, and Guerline’s rapists said that they would shoot her if she went to the police.
A year after the earthquake that killed 230,000 people and injured 300,000, more than one million people live in unsafe, miserable tent cities in the capital of Port-au-Prince and in the south of the country.
Most of the people who have been displaced by the earthquake are women and girls. They have become very easy targets for violent sexual attacks. Their lives are already extremely difficult as it is because they have lost loved ones, their homes, and their livelihoods.
Nighttime is extremely dangerous for women and girls living in the camps or tent cities. Youth gangs and armed men roam these poorly lit camps and are able to easily slice through the tents and rape at will. There is no law and order. Can you imagine what it must be like for these women and girls to go to bed at night? They have absolutely no security.
Amnesty International is calling on the Haitian government to protect women and girls in the tent cities and stop the sexual violence now.
According to the Amnesty International report, “Aftershocks: Women speak out against Sexual Violence in Haiti’s Camps,” more than 250 cases of rape were reported in several camps in the first five months after the earthquake in January.
As to be expected, not many rapes are actually reported because the victims fear retribution, or because they really don’t know where to turn. Incredible as it may seem, women who do report rape to the authorities are turned away, or are asked by the police to pay for inquiries. Talk about injustice.
Cox said the following, “Women and girls in the camps have a right to safety. The government has an obligation to protect them.