Sunday, December 02, 2007


So, I'm bragging about sitting on a beach drinking cocktails in St. Lucia in a fortnight's time. Meanwhile, a couple of hundred miles north in Haiti, right next door to the Dominican Republic, latest UN figures reveal that at least half of all women in its shantytowns have been raped. Figures on par with those coming out of the wars in Darfur and Congo. Haiti isn't even at war.

"Rape's entry in any honest history of Haiti is a long one. Columbus's men raped and murdered the indigenous tribes they found when they landed on Hispaniola in 1492; French planters used the slaves they shipped from Africa for sex; and when those slaves threw out the French and declared the first Republic, rape and murder accompanied the event. In the 200 years since then, Haiti has seen nearly half its 60-odd heads of state overthrown or assassinated - and sexual violence has been a feature of most of that turmoil. But rape, until just two years ago, was not even a serious crime in the country; and to this day many Haitians - including some in the police and judicial system - believe that forced sex is only 'rape' if the victim is a virgin."

You can read the full story, which ran in today's Observer Woman, here.

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