‘Rape has become a weapon’ for Haiti gangs, says UN Published duration 10 May 2015
media caption Teenager Yves Salomon (c) is pictured with his mother, Lise Salomon, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
A UN adviser on sexual violence has said Haiti is facing a “crisis of rape” linked to the country’s gangs.
The UN Human Rights Council is due to discuss the prevalence of sexual violence in Haiti at a meeting in Geneva on Tuesday. Mr Yves Salomon told the BBC that sexual violence was “not confined to a particular group of women” but was happening to “ordinary women”.
But the UN has accused gangs of taking “far too little notice of sexual violence as part of a wider gang phenomenon”.
It also accused the Haitian government of failing to tackle the problem.
The UN’s regional representative on sexual violence, Andrea Zissman, told the BBC’s Focus on Haiti programme that it had documented 20,000 cases of rape and attempted rape in Haiti.
Many of those were cases of sexual violence by gangs, she said.
Many cases of gang rape were reported to the police, but there were “still no victims in the police system who have not been assaulted”, she said.
Analysis by the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is that, under the administration of President Michel Martelly, the government’s top priority is not to investigate or punish gang rape, but rather to stop the press from discussing the issue.
“The government seems intent on silencing any public discussion of the problem of sexual violence in Haiti, in particular gang rape,” said Mr Salomon.
“As a result of years of government inaction regarding sexual violence in Haiti, survivors of sexual violence are turning to gangs and to the state to address their needs,” he said.
He described how gang members, in particular, would rape girls as part of gang-based sexual relations, in order to “convert” their victims.
“It is true that rape is not confined to a single group of women; it happens to ordinary women.
“But you often get the impression that Haiti is suffering from a crisis in gang rape, when clearly the situation is far more complicated. This is not, it seems, a crisis of gang rape, but a crisis of impunity, of