Since the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, women and girls living in the internally displaced persons (IDP) camps face alarming rates of rape and other gender-based violence (GBV). The vast majority of rapes in Haiti have gone unpunished and the Haitian government and international community have not effectively deployed their resources to provide adequate protection. The Haitian government has only begun to prosecute a fraction of these cases. Many of the victims are Haitian girls under the age of 18; and medical services are overwhelmed and unable to meet healthcare needs stemming from the assaults. As a result, survivors suffer from depression and are at risk for suicide.
Women, especially poor women, have been excluded from full participation and leadership in the relief effort, despite the international law mandate of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, the recommendations of the UN Guiding Principles on internal Displacement, and other internationally recognized standards, that require a gender perspective be integrated into ongoing discussions and planning. Preventative measures--such as providing lighting, privacy, secure housing, and active police presence or other effective security (particularly at night) within the camps--are critically lacking, despite UN guidelines that highlight the prevalence of rape and other GBV in the aftermath of disaster and provide blueprints for addressing them. Having no other options, Haitian grassroots women's groups have resorted to taking charge of their own security, including escorting women to the bathrooms and organizing groups of men to take shifts patrolling their areas.