Country Key Figures
Worsened by the pandemic COVID-19 and an earthquake of magnitude 7.2 that affected more than 800,000 people, Haiti’s humanitarian needs and vulnerabilities increased, particularly in the southern region of the country, and are expected to persist in 2022, with potential deteriorated consequences in terms of protection, food insecurity and displacement. According to a recent analysis, 60% of Port-au-Prince is under the control or influence of gangs.As of August 2022, large swathes of the capital, accounting for at least 1.5 million people, were reportedly under the control or the influence of gang elements. Areas under gang control are characterized by an absence of state institutions, state programs and policies, as well as by extreme poverty, and marginalization. The crisis, natural disasters, and the increased insecurity, created a terrain favorable for the resurgence of GBV cases and cases of sexual abuse and exploitation.
Violence against Haitian women and girls is deeply rooted in cultural norms and traditions, as well as in social, economic and political conditions. Societal gender norms indisputably play a role in the use of sexual violence by armed elements. Armed gangs use sexual violence to instill fear, intimidate,subjugate and control local populations. The impact of this violence is devastating and affects all aspects of the lives of the survivors and their families. Sexual violence perpetrated by gangs remains widely underreported. This situation constitutes one of the greatest protection challenges to which individuals and communities face.
Cases of gender-based violence reported by children are usually for initiation rituals or as a means of forced recruitment to gangs. A high level of brutality and cruelty was described by survivors and family members. Impunity remains the norm for the vast majority of cases of sexual violence perpetrated by gangs. Some victims reported that they also preferred returning to work and trying to resume a “normal life” as a self-protection mechanism for their relatives and themselves, instead of initiating any legal action. In some regions, the feeling of impunity is so widespread that rapes are perpetrated in broad daylight, even on public transport. Many youngsters become sex slaves of gangs’ bosses due to the coercive climate in the areas occupied by these gangs. This trend could continue in 2022 if efforts to secure and the consolidation of peace in the affected areas by humanitarian and sociopolitical crises are not reinforced.
The persistent blockage of the main roads by armed gangs and the chronic shortage of fuel have also had a negative effect on the normal functioning of basic services, including healthcare centers. According to the latest information available, the fuel crisis triggered in late August 2022 by the latest movement of mass protests, had caused 50% of the main hospitals across the country to cease delivering emergency healthcare services as usual, and 60% of internal medicine, pediatric, surgery and obstetric services had also been severely disturbed nationwide. The Haitian health system is ill-prepared and poorly equipped to respond to the basic health needs of its population, let alone to address any major medical crisis. In addition, due to gang-related violence, victims generally do not have access to available post-rape treatment kits, which exposes them to a higher risk of contracting HIV or sexually transmitted diseases and to unwanted pregnancies. This same violence has also had a detrimental impact on health care workers, who have been attacked and/or kidnapped while performing their duties. Lack of public investment in the medical sector has placed Haiti at the bottom of world rankings health indicators. Between January and October 2021, the health system in Haiti, through the sanitary facilities provided care for GBV cases, mainly sexual and physical violence, where 77% were women and girls and 23% were men and boys.