Long term efforts to rebuild Haiti must include safety of women as a priority one charity has warned.
Particular problems facing women and girls in Haiti have been highlighted by ActionAid. With an estimated 1.5 million people homeless women and children are vulnerable to abuse, a press release says, with women forced to exchange sex for food a concern as well as the dangers they face without rule of law.
Community action in one camp is evident where women have got together to organise a nightly guard for vulnerable women and a daily visit from a Haitian police officer has also kept levels of attack down.
Taina Bien-Aime, executive director of Equality Now examines some of the threats women face in times of crisis on the Huffington Post and is quoted on CNN writing in an email:
From where we stand, the most critical and urgent issue is what, if any, contingencies the relief/humanitarian agencies are putting in place not only to ensure that women have easy access to food, water and medical care, but to guarantee their protection.
The “shocking levels” of rape and violence against girls by armed gangs were highlighted in a report by Amnesty International in 2008.
Amnesty has also called on the United Nations to take steps to protect women and children, warning that their increased vulnerability after the quake “creates the perfect environment for human rights abuses and crimes such as rape and sexual abuse”.
More about the dangers faced by women and children before and after the earthquake here.
Photo credit: US Army (Creative Commons Licence)