Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hundreds of women and girls have been sexually assaulted in Haiti since 2010's devastating earthquake

A report by Amnesty International says armed gangs prowl the makeshift camps set up after the earthquake, preying on vulnerable women. It says the camps lack security and that the police response is inadequate. It has called on the government to do more to reduce the threat to women. Amnesty International spoke to 50 survivors of sexual violence including a 14-year-old girl in the capital, Port-au-Prince, who was punched and then raped. Another women said she and a friend were bound and gagged and sexually assaulted in front of their children. Women and girls in the camps are especially vulnerable because their makeshift shelters provide no protection against attackers. During the night armed youth gangs just go inside the tents or they rip through the tents with knives or blades, and they just rape the women they find. One young woman said that she was raped in a camp soon after giving birth. Kofaviv, a group that has been helping Amnesty International with its research, says it has reports of attacks on children as young as four or five. The organization found that most of these crimes go unpunished. Sexual violence and impunity for rapists was widespread in Haiti before the earthquake, but attackers are now even more likely to get away with their crimes because the Haitian justice system broke down after the disaster and the police lack manpower. In the first six months after the earthquake, at least 250 cases of rape were reported; a year on and serious sexual assault is still taking place.

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