In January 2010, the 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Haiti destroyed 70 percent of the buildings in the 15 districts of the country’s capital Port-au-Prince. Consequently, thousands of people were left homeless. Since then, 1.3 million people have been placed in tents and makeshift camps.
These precarious housing conditions have exacerbated vulnerability of Haitian girl women and adolescent girls. In camps, females are facing risks of rape and sexual violence. Melanie Megevand, Protection Officer of American Refugee Committee, comments on this issue and says that “it is difficult to say if the cases of violence have been increases since the earthquake, because we had no figures from before to compare with.”
As police stations and court houses were devastated by the quake, authorities assistance is even more limited than it was before the disaster. Since only few cases end up in conviction, with this knowledge attackers behave with impunity. A 16 year old rape victim featured in the video report explains that she did not want to file a complaint because she feared that her aggressor might take revenge on her.
Therefore, protection and safety of women and girls must be a top priority of any humanitarian plan. Empowering women socially and economically is one of the main challenges of Haiti reconstruction and developement.