Stories from Haiti
The following are stories compiled from interviews conducted for a report on survival sex and sexual exploitation in Haiti, entitled: "Struggling to Survive: Sexual Exploitation of Displaced Women and Girls in Port au Prince, Haiti".
“Kettlyne,” an 18-year-old orphan, lives in Croix Deprez camp with her three year-old daughter. After her husband died in the earthquake, she began exchanging sex for food. Most of the men she has sex with are married. They sometimes refuse to pay her and often beat her after sex. Occasionally, they recommend her to other men and beat her if she refuses these men as well. As a result of one exchange, Kettlyne became pregnant and was forced to get an illegal abortion. Kettlyne told her interviewers that she has no other options for work; she would like to go to school and pay for her daughter’s education as well but, “if my baby is crying for food, I am obligated to do anything.”
19-year-old “Marie” lives in a tent in Croix Deprez camp with her daughter, her mother and four children her mother took in from the street. Her daughter is the result of a rape that occurred in February 2010, just after the earthquake. Since her father died in the earthquake, Marie provides for the household by exchanging sex for food and money. The men she has sex with often become violent and force themselves on her. Occasionally, the men refuse to wear condoms or refuse to pay her. Marie is afraid of getting pregnant or contracting a disease or infection from these exchanges but has no money for medical attention and no access to free clinics. While she’d love to attend school, as she was doing before the earthquake, she sometimes doesn’t even make enough for her family to live on. Despite the shame she feels doing such work, Marie feels that she has no other options.
Before the earthquake, “Stephanie” lived with her sister who took care of and fed her. Now, Stephanie’s sister must provide for her own daughter and Stephanie’s friends live too far away to offer help. She currently shares a tent with two other girls and provides for herself. The girls she lives with exchange sex for food, so Stephanie began to do the same. She states, “If I asked for food from a woman, nothing would happen. But if I asked a man for food, the man will ask me to have sex with him.” While some of the men are honest and provide the food or resources promised in exchange for sex, other men rape girls who refuse to talk to them. Stephanie says that she’s never received distributions of aid. She asks that aid be distributed equitably, in such a way that everyone receives some resources.
The first time 20-year-old “Carole” exchanged sex for food was after her parents died in the earthquake, while living in Champ de Mars camp. Carole heard about people fighting over food cards and was initially too scared to get one. She went to a camp committee member to ask for a food card but he would only give her one if she slept with him. Eventually, Carole was so hungry that she consented. She continued to exchange sex with him until other men found out. Once these men had decided she was “only after one thing,” they got together and raped her. Although Carole was able to travel a far distance for medical attention after the rape, she says the police only told her to “take it up with the President” when she reported it. Carole continued to engage in sexual exchange at discos and experienced further violence and rape. Most of her clients were older Haitian men, a few of whom she believes were employed by international NGOs. Carole now lives in a safe house and no longer exchanges sex for resources. She hasn’t gotten her period since the rape, however, and is now certain that she is sick as a result.
*The names in these stories have been changed
MADRE & Our Partners Make News
Forbidden Talk - Prostitution in the Middle East (Levant TV, October 7, 2014)
Women's Organizations Fighting Against Gender-Based Violence in Iraq (Girls' Globe, October 1, 2014)
We all know about jihadists, but what about those waging an 'anti-jihad'? (Reuter, October 1, 2014)
Breaking the gridlock of climate change negotiations: learning from allies (openDemocracy, September 29, 2014)
Arab and Jewish midwives find a common language (Haaretz, September 12, 2014)