Haiti has never been a haven of women’s rights, but since the earthquake, it’s become hell for women and girls, as opportunistic rapists see insecure camps as a convenient way to find victims:
They are women like Guerline, who two months after losing her husband when their home crumbled to the ground in the devastating quake, had to watch as her teenage daughter was raped in a makeshift tarpaulin camp in Port-au-Prince.
Guerline was raped on the same night as her daughter by hooded men in the tent city. She can’t get the events of that terrible night out of her head.
Something like 750,000 women and girls of child-bearing age have been displaced by the quake. Forced to live in indefensible tents, in unlit camps, they are sitting ducks for assailants. And the government’s made little progress in getting people settled, in making the camps more secure, in doing much of anything.
Women who did report a rape to the authorities said they were either told that nothing could be done for them, or were asked to pay the police — with money they don’t have — for inquiries.
It also costs money to go to a hospital, and rape often involves serious injuries – and not just from the act itself. For example, one young woman was kicked hard in the belly before being raped. The stories are sickening and horrifying. Yolande Bazelais, president of FAVILEK, a local women’s rights advocacy group, says the lack of food is also pushing children into prostitution.
This is what happens when women and children have virtually no rights, and suddenly predators are presented with a made-to-order opportunity to prey on as many victims as they want, with virtually no chance of facing any consequences for their actions.