According to a report carried by BBC Caribbean, Amnesty International, in its report, “Aftershocks: Women speak out against sexual violence in Haiti’s camps”, armed gangs prowl the makeshift camps set up after the earthquake, preying on vulnerable women.
The report suggests that the camps at which many sought and still seek shelter after their homes were destroyed in the earthquake, lack security with inadequate police response.
Amnesty International spoke to 50 survivors of sexual violence including the aunt of an 11-year old who informed that her niece was raped when she went to purchase food in Camp-de-Mars.
According to another woman’s account of her suffering, on the night of 12th January 2010, she tied sheets together for her and her children to sleep, and stayed at her home which was destroyed by the earthquake.
She explained that while her family slept, she was awaken when, “Three men appeared over me… I cried out ‘You’re hurting me. You’re hurting me.’ One of them punched me and told me to be quiet. They closed the sheets, gagged my mouth and raped me. One man raped me; the other two were holding me down… There was no light and I couldn’t see their faces. I cannot tell who they were.”
The woman further informed that as a result of the ordeal she was impregnated and “I don’t know how the baby is doing… I don’t eat very well. The baby is not well nourished. I’m very hungry…I haven’t been to the hospital. When I needed to go, I was ashamed, and afraid…”
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.
Amnesty is calling on the new Haitian government to take a number of steps to reduce the threat to women and girls who are forced to live in the camps until Port-au-Prince has been re-built.
Portions of this article were lifted from BBC Caribbean.