Norwegian Police to Haiti Against Sexual Offences

The majority of the selected advisors are female and they have been trained and equipped in strategic planning projects for the protection of women and children in the camps.

United Nations workers report that sexual violence has increased in the country hit by the devastating earthquake on 12 January. Even though there is no concrete data on the number of cases that have occurred since the earthquake, Norwegian Police Directorate verifies an increasing trend of violence and rape in the camps for the homeless after a ” fact finding ” trip to Haiti. More young girls go out of the camps with fear of being raped and killed , according to the Directorate's report.

Addressing the rise in sexual violence in Haiti, UN had decided to send a unit of 130 female Bangladeshi soldiers to protect Haitian women in previous days. The expert group from Norway will also work together with this team and the personnels from 48 nations in Haiti.

The team members will learn French and they will be trained in cultural understanding and on-site action for preventing and combating violence.

While similar deployments were successful in post-war Liberia, where rape was used as a systematic weapon in the conflict zone, the authorities in Haiti are skeptical that such kind of “soft power” will help in fighting against sexual assaults.

Reasons Worsening the Situation

Communication systems, and many service facilities have been damaged by the earthquake, and the confusion over the responsibility in security brings more challenges in the camps. Many police suffer the loss of their families and focus on helping themselves. Moreover, Haiti has a rooted history of sexual assault. The collapse of traditional societal support mechanisms after these kinds of disasters is another cause which allow sexual attacks to take place.

According to the Human Rights Watch document “Sexual Violence Against Refugees: Guidelines on Prevention and Response”, refugee men's alcohol and drug abuse as well as the stress stemming from not being able to assume normal cultural, social and economic roles, may also foster aggressive behavior towards women.

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