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UN Peacekeepers Sexual Epidemic

“U.N. peacekeepers fathered, then abandoned, hundreds of children and women in Haiti”

When the people responsible for others safety and well-being in times of distress, get involved in hideous crimes that are unspeakable it becomes impossible to believe in anything. This news comes from Haiti but the acts are not limited to Haiti only.

According to a 2017 report by Canada’s Queen’s University and the University of Birmingham in the U.K., girls as young as eleven were paid small amounts of cash or food, sometimes as paltry as a single cookie, for sex that left them pregnant, forced to raise children alone in situations of extreme poverty, political turmoil, rampant violence, illness, and natural disaster.

Of the 2,500 people interviewed for the report in areas where the UN operated, ten percent knew a child fathered by UN peacekeepers.

The UN mission in Haiti, has been soiled by scand

al for years amid reports of widespread sexual abuse of local women and girls, including a coercive child sex ring, a peacekeeper raid in a Port-au-Prince slum that left dozens of civilians with gunshot wounds, and the introduction of a cholera outbreak that killed ten thousand people.

The peacekeeping mission in Haiti, which began in 2004 after an elected president was overthrown, was already marred by previous allegations of rape and an acknowledgment from the United Nations that it played a role in introducing cholera to Haiti in 2010, sparking an outbreak that killed 10,000 and infected 800,000 more. Alarms regarding the United Nations’ involvement in the country sounded again in 2017 when the Associated Press reported that 135 U.N. peacekeepers from Sri Lanka were involved in a sex ring that victimized nine children in Haiti — the youngest of whom was 12 — from 2004 to 2007.

Missions around the world have faced similar scrutiny for sexual abuse of local populations and pregnant women left behind, with documented epidemics of abuse.

Haiti is just one of many countries where UN Peacekeepers have raped women and girls, or sexually exploited them in exchange for food or support. Lately there have been internal reports on rape by African Union forces in Somalia, French and UN peacekeepers in Central African Republic and UN troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

How is the UN tackling this epidemic?

In 2015, the UN made a public database that lists nearly 2,000 allegations of sexual assault and sexually exploitative relationships involving its peacekeepers since 2010.

The majority of confirmed allegations have resulted in repatriation, upon which the peacekeeper’s home country is responsible for holding the perpetrator accountable, instead of the UN as a result, prosecutions have been rare. According to the database, upon returning to their home countries, most perpetrators have received minimal, if any consequences for their behaviour and the media coverage is not at all there.

After the outbreak of this news UN released its statement on 21st January 2020 — on how it's tackling this epidemic and what measures have been taken so that these incidents don’t repeat in future. I have attached a link to the UN’s official press release here:

The problem:

The problem is people believe that such crimes could be reduced or eliminated if there were an increase in women wearing UN blue helmets, but the truth is diverting responsibility to women does not address the problem of sexual violence in peacekeeping operations or help eradicate its causes.

On the contrary, ‘building sustainable peace will require work from both men and women, including peacekeepers, policy makers, humanitarian agency staff, members of community organizations. What is an alternative system to interrogating, investigating, preventing, and prosecuting SEA by UN Peacekeepers? It is difficult not to link this issue to a failure of gender mainstreaming in peace operations – and examine the claim in the UN more broadly. The UN is consistently short of peacekeepers for various missions, but this does not mean that it must accept troops whose behaviour is far more serious than financial misconduct.


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