Haiti Update

Rape became illegal in Haiti in 2005. Although the law was barely effective before the earthquake, in the aftermath of the disaster, the unpunished violence toward women has been increasing.

“In one of the great unmentioned effects of the earthquake in Haiti, women and young girls are suffering a rising number of rapes and sexual assaults, according to leading aid agencies,” Nina Lakhani wrote in an article from The Independent, “Rape on the rise in Haiti’s camps.”

“Violence, especially sexual violence, always escalates after a major disaster when security is unstable and women are forced to live in the open, in close proximity to unknown men,” the article said.

Countless articles, including those in The New York Times and BBC, attest to the weakened security after the disaster, resulting in a weakened justice system. Almost none of these men are being held accountable for their actions, especially not those that are in the police force.

The Times said that women in Haiti are being told to wear jeans under their clothes to make it more difficult for potential attackers to cut through. Many women have also started sleeping with machetes under their pillows as another safety measure.

The pity that most people feel for the small, impoverished nation was prompted by images of the hospitals, homes and schools in Port-au-Prince that were razed to the ground, not by the country’s weak civil security that has been broken down even further after the horrendous disaster.

“Physical help isn’t necessarily what needs to be done,” sophomore Meri White said. She is correct, but are we forgetting that the disaster is not over? Men are raping women and stealing food given to them by relief workers.

Sophomore Tyler Hoagland said, “There are a lot of mistakes being made by people trying to help.” But when asked about the increase of rape victims in Haiti he said, “It doesn’t surprise me, but I hadn’t heard anything about it before this.”

“They still desperately need help,” senior Dominick Baruffi said. However, Baruffi had no idea that gangs of men are hunting down and sexually assaulting abandoned women–women whose husbands have died, leaving them to scrape for food.

It is not that this news and information has not been visible all over the Internet, but that it is being ignored. Helpful people want to hear about the horrible and heart-wrenching natural disasters, but it seems that those same people never want to be faced with the unnatural, heinous disorders within the societies.


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