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?