‘Rape has become a weapon’ for Haiti gangs, says UN chief
By: RICARDO ARIAS-MALDONADO, Associated Press
May. 23, 2014Updated: May. 23, 2014 9:39pm et
Haitian police officers stand guard as they prepare to storm a building where some of the attackers reportedly gathered, in the northern city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday, May 22, 2014. Police and soldiers stormed a building in the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of the quake-damaged capital Thursday in an assault on a gang that they have labeled a major terror organization. (AP Photo/Ricardo ArIAS-MALDONADO)
PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI (AP) — Rape has become a weapon for gangs in Haiti’s post-earthquake crisis, the U.N. human rights chief said Thursday, a warning to international forces struggling with a nearly three-month-old cholera epidemic and other problems unleashed by the massive temblor and earthquake that devastated much of the Caribbean nation.
After a three-day meeting, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said he had “grave fears that the sexual violence which took place on a daily basis in Port-au-Prince and some parts of the country may have been the trigger for the escalation of those atrocities.”
“I have very grave fears that the sexual violence which has taken place on a daily basis in Port-au-Prince or the north may have been the trigger for the escalation of those atrocities,” Pillay said in a televised statement.
He said he is appalled by reports of rape “in the thousands” of cases investigated by Haitian authorities, which is a fraction of the estimated 1.8 million victims of sexual violence in the country.
Pillay called on the U.N. Security Council to press the Haitian government to address sexual violence “in a systematic way” to prevent its spread.
“I have grave concerns about what is taking place in Port-au-Prince and the north and about a growing sexual violence in the thousands of cases that are investigated by the police,” he said.
The U.N. Human Rights Office issued a statement, noting that “the lack of