Created April 13, 2011

DOS 2010 Report: Haiti, at 18-20:

“The law prohibits and provides penalties for rape but does not recognize spousal rape as a crime...

“Prosecution was often not pursued due to lack of reporting and follow-up on victims' claims.

“Anecdotal evidence suggested that some younger women were detained after violently resisting sexual attackers, who were sometimes family members. Kidnappers often raped their female abductees. Reported sexual assault cases increased significantly... NGOs noted alarming increases in sexual violence against women in IDP camps... On December 22, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights recommended that the government adopt "urgent measures" to prevent, report, and address violence against women and girls in the IDP camps of the Port-au-Prince area. By year's end, the government had not addressed the commission's recommendations.

“... Many credible NGOs and government sources believed that urban gangs used rape as a systematic instrument of intimidation. Women's shelters and organizations reported that armed gangs frequently raped and harassed girls and women.

“Women's rights groups and human rights organizations reported that domestic violence against women remained commonplace and underreported. Police rarely arrested the perpetrators or investigated the incidents, and the victims sometimes suffered further harassment and reprisals from perpetrators, sometimes prompting secondary displacement of victims within IDP camps. Corrupt judges often released suspects arrested for domestic violence and rape.

IACHR, PR 114/10:

“According to information received by the Inter-American Commission, the extremely precarious conditions and lack of security in the camps for internally displaced persons (IDP camps) is generating a situation of extreme vulnerability for the women and girls who live in them. The number of sexual violations committed in the camps is apparently on the rise, and rapes of girls as young as five years old have been reported. Organizations working on the ground have observed that most of the rapes are committed at night by two or more attackers, who are usually armed. According to the data provided to the IACHR, the victims of these attacks do not have adequate medical services available, nor do they have accessible, effective judicial recourse, which creates a situation of impunity which allows the violence against women and girls to be perpetuated.

“In this regard, the IACHR recommended to the State of Haiti that it ensure the presence of security forces around and inside the IDP camps, in particular female security forces and especially near the bathrooms; improve lighting inside the camps; implement measures to facilitate the filing of legal actions and to improve the efficiency of judicial investigations, including in particular training police officials in their duties related to cases of violence against women; and provide free assistance by specialized doctors who have experience in treating victims of sexual violence.

AI , Haiti. Sexual Violence.

“More than 250 cases of rape in several camps were reported in the first 150 days after January’s earthquake ...One year on, rape survivors continue to arrive at the office of a local women’s support group almost every other day.”

AI , What Hope for Haiti? At 3.

“Women and girls who had been raped told Amnesty International that when they went to the police to report the crime, they were told that nothing could be done to find their attackers or that they should find their attackers themselves and bring them to the police.

UNHRC Report on Haiti, Annex, at 5.

21. Security in the relocation camps is maintained by joint patrols of the National Police and the United Nations Police (UNPOL), and steps have been taken to secure the boundaries and zones which are risky or dangerous for women, such as washing and toilet facilities...

UNHRC Report on Haiti, Annex, at 7. “The situation of women

  1. “The critical situation of women victims of sexual violence was described by the independent expert in his main report (A/HRC/14/44, paras. 26 to 30 since then other reports by international NGOs have further documented these violations of rights. The independent expert visited several camps and met with women and women’s groups working on the violence issue. Many of them described to him the dangers to which women are exposed in the camps and host families, the sexual promiscuity in the toilets, and the poor lighting, which renders women even more vulnerable.
  2. The independent expert thanks the Haitian authorities, MINUSTAH and the international organizations which set up the camps to take in displaced persons for having taken the measure of the problem and for the decisions taken on prevention of violence against women. The night lighting in the proximity of the washing and toilet facilities, the night patrols by the police, the effort to make the inmates of the camps aware of the problem, and the access granted to specialized agencies are all concrete measures which will support the fight against violence against women.
  3. However, impunity is without doubt one of the most worrying of the factors mentioned by victims of violence and persons working with them. The independent expert stressed in his main report the paramount role of the prosecution of acts of rape in accordance with the provisions of Haiti’s Criminal Code. He can only repeat his recommendations on the topic (A/HRC/14/44, para. 92), even allowing for the fact that the justice system was disrupted by the earthquake of 12 January 2010.

UNHRC Report on Haiti, at 8:

“Women and gender-based violence

  1. There is a considerable volume of credible evidence of the plight of women, in particular pregnant women and women with very young babies. Owing to their delicate condition they do not have access to food distribution points or to food coupons: some of them are obliged to walk for several hours and are not strong enough to carry bags of rice, or even if they are, they may have their bags of food stolen on route. There is some evidence of a very large increase in forced prostitution, especially in exchange for food or food coupons. There is considerable evidence of violence against women and girls, in particular in the camps but also in the various quarters of Port-au- Prince and other disaster-stricken towns in which makeshift shelters have been set up.
  2. There are allegations of a 150 per cent increase in incidents of violence reported to the Haitian National Police, which means that the estimates must be far lower than the true figures, for many women and girls were reluctant in the past and are still reluctant to make complaints. The lack of security in the camps, the poor lighting at night, the dearth of proper sanitation facilities and the shortage of shelters or tents which compels people to cohabit with strangers are the commonest reported causes of gender-based violence.
  3. An increasing number of these acts of violence are committed by gangs of men, who are able to proceed with absolute impunity even though their names are known. This situation is further aggravated by the fact that the principal hospitals which used to examine sexually assaulted women in order to certify their condition have been destroyed and the civil society organizations which used to work on these cases have been disbanded or have ceased to operate. Nevertheless, from the third week after the earthquake a number of organizations (such as Kay Fanm, Solidarité Fanm Ayisyen (SOFA) and Fanm Décidé) began to care for women victims of violence. The National Police does not seem particularly anxious to receive and process complaints; clear instructions ought to be given by the National Police authorities concerning procedures for dealing with this type of violence, in particular with respect to the receipt of complaints and increased patrols inside and in the vicinity of the camps. What is more, the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince has ceased to issue certificates to women victims of violence on the pretext that this not an “essential service”.

Get Legal Help

Before you talk to USCIS always speak with an Immigration Specialist.

Get Legal Help

Before you talk to USCIS always speak with an Immigration Specialist.


Ask a Law Librarian

If it's
9am and 4pm