UN peacekeepers in Haiti said to have fathered countless children
United Nations peacekeepers in Haiti left and left behind hundreds of kids, researchers found in a recently released academic analysis, leaving moms struggling with stigma, poverty and single parenthood following the men departed the country.
While the UN has acknowledged numerous instances of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers in Haiti and elsewhere, the study on Haitian victims moved further in documenting the scope of the issue in that nation — the Western Hemisphere’s poorest — than had been previously known.
‘Women as young as 11 were mistreated and impregnated’ from peacekeepers, who were stationed in Haiti from 2004 to 2017,’ and a number of the women were later’left in misery’ to increase their kids independently, according to the research by two academic investigators.
‘They put a couple of coins in your hands to fall a baby from you,’ one Haitian was quoted as saying by the investigators, whose work was published on Tuesday by The Conversation, an academic website backed by a consortium of universities.
The children are called ‘minustahs.’
‘We have sadly seen instances between Minustah peacekeepers over the past decades, though allegations have been generally decreasing since 2013,’ the statement said.
Even the United Nations has acknowledged that over 100 Sri Lankan peacekeepers deployed to Haiti exploited eight children in a sex ring in 2004 to 2007, and the men were sent home, but weren’t punished.
The newest study, by Sabine Lee, a history professor at the University of Birmingham, along with Susan Bartels, a clinician scientist at Queen’s University in Ontario, will be now the latest to record sexual misconduct by global peacekeeping forces, including those stationed in Mozambique, in Bosnia, in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in the Central African Republic.
Of the people interviewed by the writers, 265 informed of children fathered by members of this peacekeeping force, that arrived from at least 13 states but mostly Uruguay and Brazil, according to a graph in the analysis.
‘That 10% of the interviewed mentioned such children highlights how such stories really are,’ they wrote. They noticed that over the years, news organizations had reported clinical cases in Haiti in which’minors were provided food and small quantities of cash to have sex with U.N. personnel.’
The authors didn’t estimate the amounts of children or impregnated girls . But legal experts and aid workers say the problem has been pervasive, and that the United Nations has failed to assist the girls.
Sienna Merope-Synge, legal manager of this group and also a staff attorney at a Boston-based associate organization, the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, said that the teams had approached U.N. officials in 2016 about securing child care for those mothers but had received none.
‘The U.N. has to be more proactive,’ she explained. ‘It shouldn’t be on a woman in rural Haiti to find actions for a man in Uruguay.’
Others were far more significant of the United Nations, visiting the Haiti study as another example of what they predicted the organization’s male-dominated ethos. Paula Donovan, a co-founder and co-director of AIDS-Free World, a team that has frequently castigated the United Nations during sexual abuse and gender problems, said the study had corroborated her perspectives.
‘This research confirms that standard U.N. practice is to harness girls — from these subsisting in tents to people presenting at conferences — and then crush them like bugs should they dare whine about sexual abuse and then undermine the U.N. patriarchy’s 75-year-old culture of entitlement and impunity,’ Donovan said in a statement.
While some mothers told the researchers of sexual abuse by U.N. employees, most of the stories recounted subtler kinds of coercion, using peacekeepers trading small sums of money or food for sex with women and women who had been often desperately weak. In other cases, women and their loved ones described as soon as the peacekeepers left Haiti relationships which ended.
The writers said Haitians living in communities across 10 U.N. foundations were asked’what it’s like to be a woman or a girl residing in a neighborhood which hosts a peacekeeping assignment’ The Haitians weren’t asked specifically about potential abuse or sexual relations with peacekeepers, according to the study, but participants raised the problem themselves.