Women and girls living in makeshift camps are at increased risk of rape and sexual violence in the aftermath of Haiti's earthquake, according to a new report released Thursday.
The Aftershocks report from Amnesty International said more than 250 cases of rape in several camps were reported in the first 150 days after last January's earthquake. A year later, rape survivors continue to arrive at the office of a local women's support group almost every other day.
"The women have been attacked in the shelters, in the camps, dragged by a group of men into another tent and been raped there," said Gerardo Ducos, the report's author.
This is mainly due to the horrendous conditions in the camps, where tents are made of plastic and easily ripped open by attackers in the dead of night. Even in daylight many are raped as they line up for long periods of time waiting for the toilets.
The response by police officers to survivors of rape is described as inadequate, with police turning a blind eye and often just driving on by.
Many survivors of rape said when they sought police help they were told officers could do nothing. Amnesty International is calling for the new government to take urgent steps to end violence against women as part of a wider plan to address the humanitarian effort.
Its recommendations include:
- Collect and preserve evidence of rape for future prosecutions.
- Give women clear information on the recourse that is available to them.
- Maintain and extend police and military presence in the camps.