Sexual Violence Should Be Recognized as a Public Health Issue in Haiti

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Giselle*, 20, a survivor of sexual violence, in Port-au-Prince. Photo by Benedicte Kurzen/NOOR [*Name has been changed]

Recently, staff from MSF’s Pran Men’m clinic for sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) survivors in Port-au-Prince held a powerful Facebook Live where they talked about the patients they see every day.

Watch it here:

MSF is pushing for Haiti to recognize SGBV as a public health problem, and calling for coordinated, comprehensive care to be made available for all survivors.

A lack and need of such services is not unique to Haiti, but numbers from the Pran Men’m clinic (Haitian creole for “take my hand”) have pushed the organization to launch a public campaign.

Over two years MSF teams have treated 1,300 patients at Pran Men’m; 77% have been under 25 years old and 53% were under 18. This high rate of minors who’ve experienced sexual violence is particularly worrisome.

Some additional numbers:

  • 4 out of 5 minors treated at the clinic knew their attacker
  • Most attackers were family acquaintances and 11% were household members
  • 71% percent of children under 10 were abused in places where they should feel safe
  • 1 in 5 minors who came to the clinic after they were sexually abused was previously exposed to SGBV

  • This photo story combines haunting photographs from Haiti with the findings of MSF’s report, “Against Their Will”.

    “Against Their Will” stresses that comprehensive care is needed for survivors, which includes both medical and psychological services. Survivors need to know that they can and should receive treatment for sexual violence, and that they should come for treatment within 72 hours of the attack so they can receive effective prophylaxis for STDs and unwanted pregnancy. There is also a dire scarcity of safe shelter for those who fear continued abuse if they go home. MSF reports that longer-term shelter for these survivors is one of the biggest needs that must be addressed. Read more.

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