Women and girls more vulnerable due to gang warfare in Haiti

Milo Milfort | Port-au-Prince (Haiti) – September 6, 2022

Violence and lack of sanitation hundreds of women and girls who survive in an installed camp since July 8 in a public square in the Haitian capital, where they were after fleeing gang warfare in Cité-Soleil, the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area.

are women and girls who have lost brothers, husbands, fathers and sonshave seen armed groups burn down their houses and are part of over 3,000 people who fleeing urban warfare between coalitions of armed gangs G9 en famille et alliés and GPEP, a conflict that has already left more than 300 dead.

In Plaza Hugo Chávez de Tabarre, near the capital’s airport, it seems every woman has at least one baby. Some children were born on site, others will be born there in the coming days as dozens of women became pregnant, some of them girls between 11 and 15 years old.

The insecurity of the displaced

The IDP camp is exposed to high insecurity, therefore the camp committee of 7 members and 12 security agents is they asked for police reinforcements, especially at nightas its spokesperson Jean Ernst Desilian explained to Efe.

At least a girl is raped in the field and the author was detained and handed over to the police, and other minors complained that youths groped them inappropriately.

“We have nothing in our hands provide security, to help us do the work at night. We’ve already had a case of rape in the square, not to mention physical attacks” on men and women, and people say there are also gunmen, he says.

In fact, some young people living in the camp are suspected of being members of Cité Soleil gangs, who quietly walk around with guns. What the displaced are not safe they are forced to stay close to their belongings all day.

Rape as a weapon of war

Marie Mirland Romule, 41, has a seven-year-old son who is stunted, still unable to walk, he is blind, deaf and dumb because of beaten by gang members when she was pregnant since 8 months. During the invasion of her neighborhood in 2015, the armed group targeted pregnant women.

“They beat me to death (…) The boy was born with a crisis. They said they would kill me in the pavilion. it was all that what affected my son»says Myrlande Romélus, whose son is thanks to the intervention of other people.

At least 52 women and girls were victims of repeated assaults in the context of armed gang violence which erupted on July 7, 2022 in Cité Soleil, a popular commune in the north of the capital, according to a report by the NGO National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH).

Among the victims of these violations are 14-year-old girl and at least 12 survivors aged between 18 and 24. About 20 of the victims were raped in the presence of their children, said the non-governmental organization that protects and promotes human rights in Haiti.

Lack of hygiene and unhygienic

“When we arrived at the square, we had no water to drink. We use the water from the pond, which is not clean. Water gives us infections and scabies. we live very badly. We don’t have health care,” said Marie Flore Baptiste, 34, a mother of four, two of whom are fatherless.

When they bathe there, they are watched by cars passing by on the side of the road. They lack privacy. “We put up with it because it’s so hot, we can’t go without bathing,” he explains.

at nightfall a long line of women bathing, without a shred of privacy, near some portable latrines recently installed by the non-governmental organization Solidarités Internationales and they emit a foul smell because countless people use them every day without any maintenance.

The displaced live in an unhealthy space where they are surrounded by flies, dust, dirt and the foul smell of the ubiquitous garbage in the square where they cook and wash their sheets, wet from the heavy rains that fall almost every night, preventing the women from resting after spending hours with their children.

Although the local and international press stopped talking about the armed conflict, the displaced persons with whom Efe had the opportunity to meet confirm that the war continues, which means that the number of people in the camp is increasing day by day.

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