Haitian Women Seek Refuge Amid Rising Rape Cases

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Three days after a massive earthquake threw Haiti into chaos, Alvana was homeless, along with her two children.

But her nightmare was just beginning.

“I was gang-raped while I was sleeping in the middle of the street,” she said. “And I got pregnant.”

Alvana did not know her attackers. Depressed and unsure of what to do next, she was directed by a friend to a clinic run by KOFAVIV, a Creole acronym that translates into the Commission of Women Victims for Victims.

“By the time I got to them, my belly was already big,” she said. “But they took care of me.”

Alvana was given food, water, housing and prenatal care. She decided to keep her daughter, even though the psychological pain could be difficult — and still is, two years later.

“It’s terrible,” said Alvana, 33. “I love my daughter … (but) I look at myself and see that I have a child that is a product of a gang rape.”

Her story is, unfortunately, all too common in Haiti, said Malya Villard-Appolon, one of KOFAVIV’s co-founders.

“After (the earthquake), the situation was inhumane and degrading,” Villard-Appolon said. “There was no security in the (displacement) camps. There was no food; there was no work. And now there is a rampant problem.”

Accurate numbers are difficult, if not impossible, to find in the aftermath of such devastation, but KOFAVIV and other groups say they have seen a definite increase in rape cases after the January 2010 earthquake.

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