Rape was not made a criminal offence in Haiti until 2005. Violence against women was a problem in Haiti long before the earthquake, but the dangers for women have only been heightened in the earthquake’s aftermath. Most rape victims seen by MSF live in the insecure areas around Martissant in the south of Port-au-Prince, including Fontamara and Bolosse, where rape at gunpoint is a common occurrence.
In 2010, 150 rapes were reported in Martissant’s emergency health centre. However this figure does not show the full picture, as victims of sexual and domestic violence are often reluctant to seek treatment or report the crime for fear of reprisals. MSF organises awareness campaigns in slum areas of the city, emphasising confidentially and the need to seek treatment for sexual violence within 72 hours. In October 2010, MSF increased its capacity to treat victims of sexual violence in Haiti’s capital, offering comprehensive psychological and medical treatment.
Urban Survivors is a multimedia project by Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in collaboration with the NOOR photo agency and Darjeeling Productions, highlighting the critical humanitarian and medical needs that exist in slums the world over.
Photo: © Jon Lowenstein/NOOR