When Didi Bertrand Farmer returned to Haiti, she was unprepared for what she saw in the tent cities: an increase in sexual violence; mothers forced to leave their vulnerable daughters; young girls, pregnant as a result of rape.
Last month, I returned to my homeland of Haiti to witness firsthand the situation of women and girls living in some of the 1300 spontaneous settlements in and around Port-au-Prince, the capital. Images of the camps, now home to the 1.3 million persons, are all too familiar to the outside world by now: sprawling landscapes of makeshift tents where food, water, and sanitation are in short supply. Less evident in these media images is the struggle of women and girls amongst the desperation and violence of the camps. Nor do they capture an emerging shadow crisis: a wave of forced pregnancies that result from the rape of young girls.