Women and young girls live in constant fear in Haiti’s squalid refugee camps where hundreds of them have fallen victim to rape. In most cases, the perpetrators walk away scot-free.
Life is dreadful for women and young girls living in Haiti’s sprawling refugee camps, which are home to at least two million earthquake survivors.
“The situation in the camps is really bad. Sexual assaults are a daily occurrence,” says Yolande Bazelais, vice president of FAVILEK (Fanm victim levé kanpé, or Rape Victims, Rise to Take Action), an aid organisation for rape victims. Founded in 1994, the association has 850 members in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince.
The never-ending fight against cholera in Haiti's slums
At crossing points between "clean" and "dirty" zones, everyone must disinfect the soles of their shoes and wash their hands in chlorine solutions, to prevent bacterial contamination. (Photo: Gaëlle Le Roux)
Bianca, 18 months, and her mother are both infected with cholera. They've been hospitalized for the last three days. (Photo: Gaëlle Le Roux)
The Mango Zone is a poorer part of the already poverty-stricken Cité Soleil slum. Thick black streams of waste cover the ground and flow into the sea, close by. (Photo: Gaëlle Le Roux)
The slum's women and young girls fill their buckets from a common water tank, replenished several times a week by the public water service truck. (Photo : Gaëlle Le Roux)
Health procedures are known but not always followed. This food stall vendor says she will place a bucket of treated water for her clients, but she has neither purifying tablets nor chlorine solution. (Photo : Gaëlle Le Roux)
In Haiti, rape has often been used as a tool of political repression. It was only in 2005 that rape was declared a criminal offence. But the situation for women became unbearable after the devastating quake on January 12, 2010. At least 250 cases of sexual aggression were reported within the five months after the earthquake, but most activists believe that the actual number of victims is significantly higher.
FAVILEK aid workers rushed Barbara to the hospital for medical examination. Barbara will be spending a few days at the FAVILEK centre. “It’s important that she talks about her experience and meets other women who went through a similar ordeal. She needs to realise that she isn’t a lone victim,” says Yolande, also a rape victim. She was molested by a group of military soldiers “on 07 May 2003” – a date etched in her memory forever.
Date created : 2011-01-12