“Haitian Women, Girls Trading Sex to Survive”

Human Wrongs Watch

Two years after the earthquake that devastated Haiti, the drastic increase in sexual violence in displacement camps has been well documented. But another face of the epidemic has emerged as a pressing issue: the sexual exploitation of displaced women and girls, states a new joint report.


Displaced women and girls have lost family and community members, along with the protection and safety nets those relationships offered, it adds.

Because of poverty and a lack of economic opportunity, many women and girls are forced to trade sex for shelter, money or even a single meal. In many cases, those demanding sex are the very people who hold themselves out as representatives of the people—members of camp committees.”

The report highlights “current barriers to addressing sexual exploitation and offers recommendations to protect the human rights of women and girls engaging in transactional sex.” It also offers a legal analysis of the protections available for women and girls who have experienced a wide range of human rights violations associated with sexual exchanges.

Women, Girls Forced by Circumstance into Survival Sex

Authored by MADRE, the Commission of Women Victims for Victims (KOFAVIV), the International Women’s Human Rights (IWHR) Clinic at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law, the Global Justice Clinic at NYU School of Law (GJC) and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at UC Hastings College of the Law (CGRS), the report was compiled based on interviews with Haitian women and girls who have either engaged in transactional sex or who know people who have.

Information was also collected through interviews with Haitian government officials, service providers and women’s rights advocates.

Marie Eramithe Delva, co-founder of KOFAVIV said on 11 Jan., “Displaced women and girls are being forced by circumstance into survival sex. It is an epidemic, but one that has gotten little attention from the Haitian government or international community.”

Lisa Davis, MADRE Human Rights Advocacy Director and Clinical Professor of Law for the IWHR Clinic at CUNY Law School said on 11 Jan. “International law recognizes that an individual’s decision to engage in sex should be the result of free choice. The majority of women and girls interviewed do not have a choice. They are displaced and with few other options. In turn, they are at increased risk of sexual violence and health threats. We must shed light on this crisis.”

Widespread Sexual Exploitation

Blaine Bookey, Staff Attorney for the CGRS said, “Although almost all individuals interviewed for this report recognized that sexual exploitation is widespread, representatives of government agencies responsible for addressing sexual exploitation hold stereotypes related to gender and poverty that present an obstacle to implementing practical solutions….

Beyond this, the Haitian government’s inability to develop a meaningful response to sexual exploitation is also due to a stark lack of resources. I am hopeful the report will help breakdown these harmful stereotypes and bring much needed resources to bear.”

What Is Needed to End Survial Sex …

Margaret Satterthwaite, Professor of Clinical Law for the GJC and Faculty Director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU School of Law said on 11 Jan., “Survival sex will not end until Haitian women and girls can access what they need to live….

Haitian women want economic opportunities and the capacity to access basic resources. The international community should work closely with the Haitian government to create jobs, extend microcredit to women, and provide free education to all.”

*Source: MADRE. MADRE’s mission is to advance women’s human rights by meeting urgent needs in communities and building lasting solutions to the crises women face. It works towards a world in which all people enjoy the fullest range of individual and collective human rights; in which resources are shared equitably and sustainably; in which women participate effectively in all aspects of society; and in which people have a meaningful say in policies that affect their lives. Go to OriginalVirtual Briefing: Join the authors of this report on January 17 at 1 pm EST. Contact madrespeaks@madre.org, media@madre.org . To read full Report clic here

Also read:

Dramatic Appeal to Combat Cholera in Haiti and Dominican Republic

Haiti: Half a Million Cases of Cholera in One Year

Haiti Two Years After, Still ‘Beset by Chronic Poverty’

Remember Haiti?

More on violence against women:

Egypt: No More ‘Virginity Tests’ by the Military

‘Egyptian Women No Longer Satisfied to Walk One Step Behind Men’

Say ‘NO’ – UNiTE to End Violence against Women

Six in 10 Women Suffer Physical and/or Sexual Violence

Women at ‘Extreme Risk’ in 80 Countries

Amazing UN: Horrific Massive Rapes “Could Be” Crimes Against Humanity!

UN to Jordan: ‘End Violence against Women!’

Afghanistan, The Worst Place To Be A Mother Or A Child

Africa’s Boat People, Victims of Abduction, Extortion, Sexual Assault and Kidnapping

Pakistan: Girls Tormented by Stigma After Rape

Who Dares to Challenge a 32 Billion Dollars Business – Human Trafficking?

The Unmet Women Needs – 1 in 4 World’s People Will Be African

‘Because I Am Girl – So, What about Boys’?

Violence And Death For Millions Of Life-Givers

2012 Human Wrongs Watch

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