United Nations peacekeepers engaged in "transactional sex" with more than 225 Haitian women who needed food and medicine, according to a U.N. report obtained by the Associated Press.
A draft report by the Office of Internal Oversight Services, which investigates, audits and evaluates the U.N., explored how the organization's peacekeeping mission deals with rampant sexual abuse and exploitation in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas.
According to the report, 480 sexual exploitation and abuse claims were made from 2008 to 2013, the BBC reported. One third of the abuse involved minors under 18.
The report found that rural women — motivated by hunger and lack of shelter, medicines and baby care items — had "transactional sexual relations" with U.N. peacekeepers. Urban and suburban women had sex with U.N. workers in exchange for cell phones, laptops, perfumes, money and "church shoes," the AP reported.
Some women threatened to reveal the peacekeepers' infidelity through social media when they did not get paid, the report said.
Of 231 people interviewed by investigators in Haiti, only seven knew about the U.N. policies on sexual exploitation and abuse which were developed in response to allegations of such acts committed by peacekeepers in multiple countries in 1990, 2002 and 2004.
According to the policy, exchange of money, goods and services for sex is prohibited. Sexual relations between U.N. staff and beneficiaries of assistance are based on "inherently unequal power dynamics" which undermine the credibility of the U.N, the policy states.
Although there are mechanisms in place to report such abuse, the report said sexual exploitation was "significantly underreported."
However, U.N. staff members on long missions felt that "people should have romantic rights" and that sexuality was a human right, the report said.
Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at email@example.com.
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