UN Peacekeepers Exploited Haitian Women for Food & Medication

A report from the Associated Press says that some of the members of U.N. Peacekeeping Mission were engaged in "transactional sex" with more than 225 Haitian women who said they were obliged to do so to obtain essential things like food and medication. The report indicates that how sexual exploitation has remained underreported in such missions. It is undoubtedly one of the persistent problems with the number of 125,000 U.N Peacekeeping forces stationed in some of the world's most troubled areas like the Congo, Liberia and South Sudan. As per U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's latest annual report, last year the total number of similar allegation was 51, down from 66 the year before.

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The report says that the investigators interviewed 231 women in Haiti who said they had transactional sexual relationships with U.N. peacekeepers; however, a widespread confusion remains on the ground with the possibility of consensual sex and transactional sex. For poor rural women hunger, baby care items, shelter, common household items and medications are frequently cited as triggering need. In some cases of non-payments, the women withheld the badges of peacekeepers and threatened to reveal their infidelity. One third of the reported victims were minors below 18 years of age. It is not clear how many peacekeepers were involved in the criminality.

The U.N. doesn't have a standing army, but relies on troops contributed by member states. Unless the responsible member states investigate the alleged misconduct, the U.N. can step in. The U.N. prohibits "exchange of money, employment, goods or services for sex," as it strongly discourages sexual relationships between U.N. staff and people who receive their assistance because it severely undermines the world body's credibility.

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