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Video: Children of rape are latest legacy of Haiti quake

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An msnbc.com Special Report
updated 1/6/2011 8:36:46 AM ET 2011-01-06T13:36:46

A year after Haiti’s devastating earthquake, women in Haiti’s still-teeming tent cities face yet another threat: sexual violence. With little protection from community or law enforcement, many have been violently raped, only to become pregnant with their attackers’ children.

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Photojournalist Nadav Neuhaus traveled through Haiti’s tent cities last summer, photographing and interviewing dozens of residents in the camps that still house more than 1 million people. During a visit to Camp La Piste, home to 50,000 displaced people, Neuhaus noticed an unusually high number of pregnant women. A community organizer and a local midwife confirmed his worries: Many of the women were pregnant as a result of rape.

They came to Camp La Piste after losing parents, brothers and husbands in the earthquake, leaving them to fend for themselves in the sprawling squalor, where roving gangs of armed men terrorize residents.

In a new report, Amnesty International documents the rise in sexual violence, including at least 250 rapes reported in the first few months after the earthquake.

Fueled in part by these sexual attacks, the birth rate in Haiti has tripled since the quake, climbing from 4 percent to 12 percent, according to population experts.

Most women told Neuhaus they don’t report the rapes, either out of shame or fear of repercussions. Even if they wanted to report the crimes, there's little help in a country where police and justice systems are destroyed or distracted and where resources for the powerless are almost non-existent.

Hear and see the stories of some of these victims in the video above and slideshow below. 

Related links:
Story: Haiti earthquake: How to help
Haiti's amputees: Building a life worth living

© 2012 msnbc.com  Reprints

Photos: A mother’s burden

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  1. Attack's aftermath

    In the days following Haiti's deadly Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake, Clairmine Josile cobbled together a shelter of sticks and cloth in at Camp La Piste, a tent city that houses some 50,000 refugees. She was in the tent with her children and her cousin, Nadine, when a gang of men with guns ripped open the shelter, covered the women's faces and raped them. "I don’t know how many people walked in, all I know was that they raped," she said. A friend advised Clairmine to see a doctor, but she was too ashamed to admit the rape. Within weeks, she realized she'd become pregnant as a result of the attack. The baby was born last fall, one more mouth to feed at Camp La Piste. (Nadav Neuhaus) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Uncertain future

    Migelaita Calvile was with a group of girls when she was abducted by seven men with firearms. They took turns raping her, holding her until the following day. She learned later she was pregnant as a result of the attack. She is worried about the future because she already struggles to feed and clothe her children, relying on neighbors to give her food. More than 250 attacks were reported in the camps in the first months after the quake. (Nadav Neuhaus) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. New reality

    Marie Kena Michelle’s dream was to become a nurse. Then the Haiti earthquake struck, killing her mother, disabling her father and destroying the family home. With no place to live, she moved to the tent city of La Piste near Port-au-Prince. Soon after she arrived, a group of young men attacked her, putting a plastic bag over her head and raping her. Marie tried, unsuccessfully, to terminate the pregnancy that resulted from the rape. Here, she's shown a few hours after giving birth in a tent in the crowded camp. (Nadav Neuhaus) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Another on the way

    Emirte Desire stands outside her home in the La Piste refugee camp in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Three men broke into her tent last fall and raped her, leaving her pregnant and desperate. She worries that the future holds little hope for her and her children. "To me, there's no life because the children have a horrible life," she said. "I have nobody helping me with them and I can't even find a job to even feed them." (Nadav Neuhaus) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Small comfort

    Nadine Josile was raped twice after arriving at the tent city in La Piste. Nadine became pregnant as a result of the attacks, but she said she harbors the same love for the newborn as for her other child. "There’s no difference between the two kids. I don’t feel that the other one will be any different from this one," she said. In fact, the new baby has even provided some comfort. "There’s a lot of times I’m sad and crying, and with the affection that the child gives to me, I’m consoled, and I forget everything," she said. (Nadav Neuhaus) Back to slideshow navigation
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