Sexual violence

CNN‘s Sara Sidner reports on the continuing pressures on women in Haiti

When the guys don’t have no money, their brain is not good,” said camp leader Jean Joseph Rudler. “When they have no work or food and just sit around, it is bad. When a guy is drunk, he will do anything [to a woman].

Conducive Chronicle tells The Herstory of Haiti

The article refers to a report for the National Organization of Women titled Women of Haiti: A Violent History and Uncertain Future which says that “after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted in the military coup in 1991, the new regime employed systematic rape of women and girls as a tool of political oppression used against supporters of the democratic government and their families”.

Photo credit: UNICEF Sverige via a Creative Commons licence


A “headstrong, cynical, blogging police officer” says that if she were raped other than by a complete stranger on the street, she probably would not bother to report it.
PC Ellie Bloggs a serving police officer in England, and author of writes on Channel4’s blog that she’s worked as a specialist sexual offences officer and “in zero of the cases can I be sure that no rape happened”.
But “seasoned detectives and even supervising ranks goggle at me, stating that most rapes they have dealt with DIDN’T happen” she says. “Am I hopelessly naïve, or are they chauvinist ignoramuses?”.

Photo credit: g-hat via a Creative Commons licence

The London conference where the prospect of talks with the Taliban has been high on the agenda has been dismissed as “irrelevant” in Afghanistan.
Plans to reintegrate Taliban fighters through internationally funded development projects.
The Taliban has dismissed the conference and this new strategy but a report in the Guardian also highlights concerns among women’s rights campaigners that they could lose some of the rights they have gained since the fall of Taliban.
The report adds that the US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke has said women’s rights would be one of the international community’s “red lines” in any future peace negotiations with the Taliban.
Any Taliban who back al-Qaida, or support the group’s harsh treatment of women, would not be accommodated, Holbrooke has said.
But the situation remains complex: a report by Nima Elbagir for Channel 4 News highlights the fact that violence against women has risen to pre-Taliban levels and that women are resorting to self-immolation to escape violent marriages.
Opium farmers unable to repay debts they owe to drug lords are selling their daughters.

Photo Credit: Kawetijoru through a Creative Commons Licence

CNN reports on the death of three founders of Haiti’s most important organisations working on behalf of women and girls.

Myriam Merlet an author, had been Chief of Staff of the Haitian Ministry of Women and was an outspoken feminist who helped draw international attention to the use of rape as a political weapon reports Democracy Now!
Magalie Marcelin was a lawyer and actress who established Kay Fanm, a women’s rights organisation set up to tackle domestic violence, offering shelter and microcredits, or loans to women.
Anne Marie Coriolan was a top adviser to the women’s rights ministry and founder of Solidarite Fanm Ayisyen.
Carolle Charles chair of Dwa Fanm, is quoted by CNN saying that the three women were instrumental in challenging attitudes towards rape, which before 2005 was considered no more than a “crime of passion”.

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)