Driven by Desperation: Transactional Sex as a Survival Strategy in Port-au-Prince IDP Camps

Authored by: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Categories: Human Rights, Humanitarian Emergencies
Sub-Categories: Access to Justice and Rule of Law, Migration, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV)
Country: Haiti
Region: Latin America and the Caribbean
Year: 2011
Citation: Driven by Desperation: Transactional Sex as a Survival Strategy in Port-au-Prince IDP Camps. New York: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2011.

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Executive Summary

In spite of an absence of quantitative data, it is generally accepted that sexual and gender based violence against women and girls in the camps are widespread in Haiti. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) is on the rise due to increased economic and social vulnerabilities of persons living in camps. While SGBV was prevalent in Haiti prior to the earthquake, living conditions of 800,000 Haitians (particularly in more than 1,000 Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps and spontaneous settlements) have exacerbated these existing vulnerabilities. At the time of the study there was no quantitative data from an exhaustive study to shed light on this issue. Following the earthquake in January 2010, the primary and secondary displacements and subsequent loss of traditional community, family structures and mechanisms, combined with the loss of livelihoods and impunity for perpetrators have increased the vulnerability of many women and girls. In January 2011, UNHCR decided to undertake a field study to hear directly from women believed to be at risk of undertaking sexual exchanges in order to survive in IDP camps following the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti. The main objective of the survey was to analyze the link between food insecurity of vulnerable categories of women and girls, and the prevalence of sexual transactions among them.