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Haitian girls sell themselves to survive: World says 'mission accomplished'

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 13th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

On the second anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010, Catholic Online published an article explaining that despite the allocation of billions of dollars in aid to that country's people, less than 1 percent was actually delivered to them. Now, a new report shows the consequences of the international community's failure to help the victims of the disaster.

NEW YORK, NY (Catholic Online) - A joint report released by a consortium of rights organizations reveals that young Haitian women are being forced into sex in order to survive. This reality, two years after the quake and in spite of billions of dollars of aid pledged to help, starkly demonstrates the epic scale of the failure to actually help the Haitian people rebuild what they lost in 2010. 

The report was released on Thursday by MADRE, the Commission of Women Victims for Victims (KOFAVIV), the International Women's Human Rights (IWHR) Clinic at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law, the Global Justice Clinic at NYU School of Law (GJC) and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at UC Hastings College of the Law (CGRS). 

According to the report, over one million Haitians remain in displacement camps which remain relatively lawless. Within these camps, life is especially difficult for young women and mothers. The problems are growing worse as aid organizations, NGOs, and international observers leave Haiti taking with them what few services they were able to provide. 

Young women are faring the worst as they try to support children and survive without access to basic medical care or education. In the aftermath of the quake, rape became epidemic in the camps. The crisis of rape in the camps has been well documented over the past two years, but very little has actually been done about it. 

In addition to violent rapes however, there is a second sexual epidemic sweeping the camps. Women who cannot feed themselves or their children report being forced to sell themselves for as little as a half-sandwich or a few US dollars. The perpetrators of this exploitation are usually men who hold positions of power within the displacement camp. 

Women, especially those with children, have very little choice in the matter. If they do not submit-they, or their children will go without. 

Women in this situation also report frequent beatings, men who refuse to wear condoms, and that sometimes they are not even paid at the end of the night. Women must endure this brutal treatment whenever they (or their children) need access to medical care, education, or even food.

Haiti has always had problems with law and order, especially in poor districts, but the earthquake made everything much worse. Over 4,000 educational establishments were lost in the quake and they have not been rebuilt. 

Despite billions of dollars in international aid that was pledged to the victims, two years later more than a million people remain worse off than ever before and their outlook is grim. The root cause is that most of the funds "pledged" for earthquake relief and rebuilding were actually allocated to various government agencies (from different countries), NGOs and aid organizations. Many countries have touted the billions they spent in support of Haitian relief, but in reality only a tiny fraction of that money was ever truly intended for the people themselves. 

The tragic result is that a lot of money has been spent and effort expended, but virtually none of it has made any impact on the long-term well being of the victims. They may have been kept alive, but their living conditions remain deplorable. 

The nation of Haiti remains in crisis and the world is departing when it should consider committing. As the international community, NGOs, and aid organizations draw down their presence in Haiti, they leave a people and country devastated by disaster much farther from repair than what is widely believed. 

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