HAITI: Haiti's Women Given More Protection in Camps

Friday, December 31, 2010
United Nations Radio
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 

The protection of women and girls in camps for people displaced by the earthquake which devastated Haiti last January is being stepped up. Sexual violence against women has been a growing problem in the Caribbean island following the earthquake as communities were broken up and strangers thrown together. But now women are getting the extra support they need to help them to stay safe. Daniel Dickinson reports.

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Women at a camp for people made homeless by January's devastating earthquake queue for a so-called Dignity Kit.

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The kits which have been distributed to thousands of women across Haiti contain towels, condoms, sanitary items, a rape whistle, and other essentials that are in short supply. Marjorie Michel, is Haiti's Minister of Women's Affairs.

She says that the hygienic articles that are being provided by the United Nations Population Fund or UNFPA are given to women in difficult situations.

Women in the camps are also now being provided with a variety of maternal health services, including temporary and mobile clinics for tens of thousands of expectant mothers.

Igor Bosc is the UNFPA Representative in Haiti:

"The situation in Haiti has completely changed after the earthquake. We can see here, people living in camps, there's 1.5 million people in such conditions. Living there is not easy. There's little access to water, little access to basic health services". (15)

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Slowly more services are being provided. Youth Leaders travel around camps, distributing condoms and teaching young people how to protect themselves from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Igor Bosc again.

"It's very important that youth have access to counselling on family planning, have access to condoms, have access to counselling on prevention of sexually transmittable diseases."

Despite the best efforts of international agencies, women living in camps still fall victim to sexual violence. Small steps have been taken...for example, solar lights have been installed in some locations which offer a degree of security when darkness falls.

Igor Bosc says more needs to be done.

"The needs are huge. However, little by little we're trying to set up the proper networks for protection of women and children."

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These children at play bring a sense of normality to the camps.....and hope that one day they will enjoy a safe and secure environment.