They sent Bill Clinton to Haiti, didn’t they?

Members of a UN peacekeeping mission engaged in “transactional sex” with more than 225 Haitian women, according to a new report, which suggests that sexual exploitation remains significantly under-reported in such missions.

It’s not quite the appalling scandal you might think:

An investigation conducted a year ago in Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, interviewed women who said they had had transactional sexual relationships with UN peacekeepers. “For rural women, hunger, lack of shelter, baby-care items, medication and household items were frequently cited as the ‘triggering need’,” the report says. Women received “church shoes”, cell phones, laptops and perfume, as well as money.

“In cases of non-payment, some women withheld the badges of peacekeepers and threatened to reveal their infidelity via social media,” the report says. “Only seven interviewees knew about the United Nations policy prohibiting sexual exploitation and abuse.” None knew about the mission’s hotline to report it.

Each of those instances of transactional sex, the report says, would be considered prohibited conduct, “thus demonstrating significant under-reporting”. It was not clear how many peacekeepers were involved.

The idea that troops being paid $1 or $2 k a month aren’t going to pick up local girlfriends in a place where people earn $1 or $2 a day is pretty strange. And if we’re really going to try banning “transactional sex” then Hatton Garden, Bond Street, Jimmy Choos and Luis Vuitton are going to have to rethink their business models.

Rape? Punish it severely, same with paedophilia. That very blurred expanse between flat out prostitution and helping a girlfriend out with the rent? Bit difficult to police don’t we think?

11 thoughts on “They sent Bill Clinton to Haiti, didn’t they?”

  1. True, but shagging the local population appears to be the core activity of these UN “peacekeeping” missions, rather than a fringe activity. I suppose we should be grateful it was adults involved, and not a full-on child prostitution ring that the “peacekeepers” were running in DRC.

    Slightly veering off the topic, I did hear from a friend who served with the army in Kosovo that the presence of kiddy-fiddlers in the charities that go into war zones and disaster areas is a permanent concern. My guess is that blokes of that persuasion are attracted to those sort of roles, as it gives them greater access and greater chances of getting away with something than normal places.

  2. On the other hand, Tim, you also stand a much greater chance of getting away with shooting one, so it all evens out in the end.

  3. The other thing that would be bad, along with rape and kiddie-fiddling, would be withholding aid unless they get sex.

    No suggestion of that here either; the ‘presents’ don’t sound like aid supplies. It looks like the ‘peacekeepers’ have actually paid with their own money.

    All in all, if the report is accurate this sounds like the most moral operation the UN has conducted for years.

  4. On the other hand, Tim, you also stand a much greater chance of getting away with shooting one, so it all evens out in the end.

    Well, my pal in Kosovo did mention something about “reg justice” being dished out to a certain Red Cross worker. Although I suspect they stopped short of shooting him.

  5. As a supposedly neutral force I’d expect this kind of statement. All too easy to accuse peacekeepers of bias if you can show that some of them have been shagging/paying one of the groups being kept at peace. Even if just as many have been shagging on your side of the fence.

    If they’re smart, the UN is just giving themselves a way to protect their neutrality if/when such as case crops up. Don’t ask, don’t tell, but if we find out, you are out.

  6. ‘Transactional sexual relationships’: isn’t that just about every sexual relationship going? From a few bottles of Bacardi Breezer for a BJ in the toilet cubical, to hundreds of thousands for a 20 yr marriage that ends in divorce?

  7. Apparently hundreds of thousands of cases involving American troops during World War II in Britain are now to be historically investigated. Transactional sex crimes are reported to include nylons, chocolate and cigarettes.

  8. “They sent Bill Clinton to Haiti”.

    If only the Haitians had sent back his shrunken head.

    Both of them.

  9. When did “transgressive” swap places with “transactional”?
    Adjectives are famously mobile in the linguistic soup but this pair seem so academic we ought to be able to fix a date, by the month.

  10. So Much for Subtlety

    “For rural women, hunger, lack of shelter, baby-care items, medication and household items were frequently cited as the ‘triggering need’,” the report says. Women received “church shoes”, cell phones, laptops and perfume, as well as money.

    I don’t know. Transactional sex is such a mine field at the best of times. A present or two in exchange for a shag? OK. But starving women trying to feed their children? UN personnel withholding access to aid that should be going to refugees? All of these have been known in the past. We would need more details.

    In this case I don’t think it looks like a problem. The writer is trying to minimise the female culpability by claiming that was starving mothers trying to feed their families. But how do you feed your children with perfume and a laptop? This looks like the most transactional of transactional sex.

    In the end boys like sex. So do a lot of girls. Boys will go to some lengths to acquire it. If the Higher Ups do not provide for this need someone in the local community will.

  11. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Presumably if the women were given a lift to wherever the ‘transactions’ took place they were also victims of trafficking.

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