“Nobody Remembers Us” Failure to Protect Women’s and Girls’ Right to Health and Security in Post-Earthquake Haiti

Authored by: Amanda M. Klasing

Categories: Human Rights, Humanitarian Emergencies
Sub-Categories: Climate and Environment, Human Development, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), Sexual and Reproductive Health
Country: Haiti
Region: Latin America and the Caribbean
Year: 2011
Citation: Klasing, Amanda M. “Nobody Remembers Us” Failure to Protect Women’s and Girls’ Right to Health and Security in Post-Earthquake Haiti. Washington, DC: Human Rights Watch, 2011.

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The extreme hardships of people living in post-earthquake Haiti are well-known: many who now live in the informal displacement camps that sprung up after the January 12, 2010 disaster go to bed hungry, live in wind-tattered tents that let in rain, face the same high levels of unemployment as other Haitians, and lack adequate access to clean water and sanitation. Many face eviction by both public and private actors, and children—sick from the bad living conditions and often not in school—live without basic levels of security.
But women and girls in post-earthquake Haiti face additional hardships: lack of access to family planning, prenatal and obstetric care; a need to engage in survival sex to buy food for themselves and their children; and sexual violence. The crisis is reflected in pregnancy rates in displaced person camps that are three times higher than in urban areas before the earthquake, and rates of maternal mortality that rank among the world’s worst. Based on research conducted in Port-au-Prince in late 2010 and early 2011—and interviews with 128 women and girls living in 15 displacements camps in 7 of the 12 earthquake-affected communes—this report looks at women’s and girls’ access to reproductive and maternal care in post-earthquake Haiti. It examines the impact that food insecurity has on reproductive and maternal health; the reliance on transactional sex that some women and girls have developed in order to survive; and their vulnerability to, and the consequences of, gender-based violence (GBV). It also considers Haiti’s human rights obligations, and the need for mutual accountability between the government and donor states and non-state actors in the country.