Disasters bring out the best and the worst in people. The good will step up to the plate and go above and beyond to help those in need; they are the ones who risk their own lives to help those worse off than themselves. Then you have the bad, who take advantage of a terrible situation and make it worse. That’s what has happened in Haiti. On the one hand, you have the people who helped dig out family and friends from under the rubble, never giving up, and then you have those who looted and are now raping young women and children in the tent cities. This is not to say they weren’t evil before the earthquake hit, they were probably as vile as they are now. Haiti has had a troubled, often lawless past, with more than their share of crime. But the evil ones are taking advantage of the fact that many young children and women have no-one to protect them, and the useless U.N. patrols do nothing to help.
Word has it that children as young as 2 are being raped in the camps, with many being forced to have sex with men in return for shelter and something to eat.
Doctors are treating children aged two and seven who have been raped in the past fortnight at a refugee camp set up on a golf course in Port-au-Prince.
The shocking revelations were revealed by Alison Thompson, a volunteer medical coordinator for a Haitian relief group created by the actor Sean Penn.
‘Women aren’t being protected,’ she said. ‘So when the lights go down is when the rapes increase, and it’s happening daily in all the camps in Port-au-Prince.’
With no lighting and no security, the makeshift homes that were supposed to be a haven for the homeless victims of the January 12 earthquake have become menacing places after sunset, particularly for women and children left orphaned or alone by the disaster that claimed 200,000 lives.
But most of the attacks go unreported because of the shame, social stigma and fear of reprisals from attackers.
‘Young girls have to negotiate sexually in order to get shelter from the rains and access to food aid,’ said a report by the Interuniversity Institute for Research and Development in Haiti.
Human rights activist, Fritznel Pierre, happens to live in one of the largest camps located at a sports ground in Port Au Prince, where over 47,000 Haitians are packed in like human sardines. It also happens to be where escaped convicts have settled and Pierre claims this is one of the major reasons people say nothing ‘But nobody says anything because they’re scared, scared of the criminals and scared of the police,’
He has documented three rapes, including one of a 17-year-old who was a virgin before six men attacked and raped her repeatedly.
‘I really worry about the teenager because she has no one to look out for her.
‘She says she sees her attackers but is afraid to report them because she would then have to leave the camp and she has nowhere to go,’ he added.
As per usual, aid workers are the ones who are out there in the trenches working to help the poor Haitian people, while the UN troops do virtually nothing. Apparently there are not enough of them to make a difference, and when they do patrol the camps they rarely leave their vehicles. I still have no clue why they even bother sending troops, since they have never truly been of help anywhere.
So, not only have these young girls and women had to face, the loss of family and home, they now they have to deal with the psychological and physical ramifications of having been raped. Factor in the potential for getting pregnant, contracting a sexually transmitted disease, or worse yet HIV, and these young ones are in a living hell. One in fifty Haitians has AIDS.
One would think that people would come together to help each other out during disastrous times, that the men would kick into the role of protector, but obviously not. Predators only see it as open season- hunting down young girls to rape. And there are far too many in Haiti, right now.
Among the many victims is an 18-year-old girl who lost her parents, grandmother, a sister and three cousins in the quake.
She was roaming the streets distraught when a middle-aged man approached and promised that his wife would look after her.
He took her to a house and then left and returned with two men. They raped her repeatedly until she managed to escape.
She was one of a number of rape victims who appealed to a group of American volunteer lawyers to help them win humanitarian asylum to the U.S.
‘I’ve been here five days and have spoken to 30 rape survivors including a dozen under 18.
‘Their stories are horrific. I would be catatonic,’ said San Francisco lawyer Jayne Fleming.
Haiti police chief Mario Andresol blamed the attacks on the 7,000 prisoners who escaped.
‘Bandits are taking advantage to harass and rape women and young girls under the tents,’ he said.
And no-one there seems to care.
‘We are aware of the problem, but it’s not a priority,’ information minister Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue said last month.
And even though the UN’s Ban Ki-Moon paid a visit to Haiti along with promises for safety and security at the camps, I doubt much will happen. He said ‘We must protect these women and girls. If they are sexually abused and attacked and raped, that is totally unacceptable and intolerable and we must stop it.’ But until the UN troops become more than useless observers, nothing will change.