On June 2004, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, also known as MINUSTAH, was established after an armed conflict that ended with President Bertrand Aristide leaving the country. The peacekeeping operation had the objective of stabilizing the country in order for it to grow economically. But despite meaning well, it has brought more disaster than peace.
Since 2005, more than 500 women and girls from all over Haiti have been raped by UN Peacekeeping soldiers, from which a third of them are minors under 18. Several women claim they were forced to perform sexual relations in exchange for food and medicine. Others were assaulted simply because they were walking to their homes by themselves. An investigation conducted in Haiti to 231 women showed that only 7 of them knew about the United Nation’s policy prohibiting sexual exploitation, and none of them even considered the possibility of reporting the attack. UN Peacekeeping soldiers, in exchange for taking the job, are given immunity in the countries they serve.
Despite the concerning numbers, according to the UN, no more than 85 allegations have been made since 2008. General Ajax, the one in charge of the mission in Haiti, claims there have been no reports at all in the past 3 years. Most of the victims have decided to quietly raise the children these men leave behind, and those who report the assault receive a monetary compensation from the United Nations and never hear from them again.
Last month, a short documentary giving an insight into the stories of these women came out. Haiti By Force: UN Sex Abuse tells how these women, despite being afraid, want the United Nations and the world to know what they have suffered. Leaving school, being ignored by their families, going to prison for talking and leaving their children are just some of the many fears they face.
They are afraid of the men with blue helmets, the ones that form part of an organization that claims to be in favor of human rights, and yet the ignorance they show towards the situation says something else. There is no justice, just fear. These women feel like it’s their fault, and nobody’s doing anything to prove them that it’s not.
“You’re just a bird in front of them. They are the army, you’re human and you have no power.”
A human rights lawyer from Haiti named Mario Joseph has taken the case of 10 women who are trying to get paternity claims for their children, but when he sent a legal notice to the UN last summer asking for support, they only replied with their silence.
Margareth Pierre, Ovila WoodNelson, Germaine Anise, Cecelia Delysy and Anneleise Dieulane are just some of the hundreds of victims that are being ignored by the UN and by international news. No one should be above the law. All women deserve justice and support, and the hypocrisy coming from the United Nations must be stopped.