Things That Matter

U.N. Peacekeepers Coerced Haitians As Young As 11 Into Bearing Their Children, Then Abandoned The Mothers

A new report exposed the unsettling phenomenon of hundreds of United Nations peacekeepers, sent to provide aid to Haiti, fathering children with locals and abandoning them. The report published by The Conversation found that 265 of the 2,500 Haitians surveyed provided accounts of U.N. peacekeepers fathering children.

MINUSTAH is the 13-year stabilization mission in Haiti, set forth by the United Nations following the exile of President Bertrand Aristide in 2004. Haiti has continued to struggle with natural disasters and disease outbreaks (often brought by U.N. peacekeepers themselves). MINUSTAH was intended to stabilize the region. Instead, The Conversation uncovered a chilling pattern of exploitation and sexual misconduct.

U.N. peacekeepers created a culture of coercion.

Some Haitian victims were children as young as 11 — forced into sex, impregnated, then abandoned to raise children in extreme poverty. Others surveyed alluded to sexual violence, but most often women’s conditions made them willing participants out of survival. U.N. peacekeepers would exchange “small amounts” of food and money for sex.

“All day, I heard women who are complaining about the sexual violence that MINUSTAH did to them. And they had given them AIDS through sexual violence. There are also some of them who are pregnant,” a participant said.

What is astounding about the research is that the survey, led by Professor Sabine Lee of the University of Birmingham and Susan Bartels a clinician-scientist at Queen’s University in Ontario, was not intended to be about sexual assault or relations at all. The pattern was so common, the Haitian locals would bring it up of their own volition, according to the Washington Post

“They come, they sleep with the women, they take their pleasures with them, they leave children in their hands, give them 500 gourdes,” one man told the researchers. 

The abandonment of children fathered with Haitian women was rampant.

“I see a series of females 12 and 13 years old here. MINUSTAH impregnated and left them in misery with babies in their hands. The person has already had to manage a stressful, miserable life,” a woman from Cité Soleil said

Many of the people interviewed suggested that once it was discovered that the men had impregnated a person, they were moved to a different station or repatriated in their home countries. These children were left with young mothers who often can’t even afford to send them to school. In some cases, women would be forced into sex work to support their babies. 

“He left her in misery because when he used to have sex with her it was for little money, now his term reaches its end, he goes and leaves her in misery, and then now she has to redo the same process so she can provide meals to her child, can’t you understand,” a Port-au-Prince man said.

The U.N. responds to the allegations in the report.

The United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations said it would take the claims in the report seriously.

“We have unfortunately seen cases involving MINUSTAH peacekeepers over the past years, although allegations have been generally declining since 2013,” the statement said. “Our approach puts the rights and dignity of victims at the forefront of its efforts to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse.”

The Washington Post notes that the U.N. has received 116 sexual misconduct allegations since 2007 regarding Haitian peacekeepers. On record, 29 peacekeepers have been implicated in fathering 32 children with 26 women. Lee and Bartels feel that the nature of sending foreigners with more social and economic capital into regions with extreme poverty is a recipe for exploitation. 

In many cases, the power differential between foreign peacekeepers and local populations allows foreigners, knowingly or unknowingly, to exploit local women and girls,” Lee and Bartels wrote. “The prevalence of transactional sex in our data underscores the significance of the structural imbalances – peacekeepers have access to some of the resources that are desired or needed by the local population and so they are in a strong position to exchange those for sex.”

The researchers and advocates are hoping the revelations in the study lead to justice for Haitian women who simply cannot afford to take legal action, if they wanted to seek out child support, against foreign peacekeepers who are citizens of entirely different nations. 

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NFL Lineman Justin Herron Saved A 71-Year-Old Woman Who Was Being Sexually Assaulted

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NFL Lineman Justin Herron Saved A 71-Year-Old Woman Who Was Being Sexually Assaulted

Fans of the New England Patriots offensive lineman Justin Herron know by now that he’s got a thing for being in the right place at the right time. After all, his career relies on it.

Still, most likely didn’t know that the 25-year-old football player has a hero’s spirit as well.

This week, the lineman was honored by an Arizona police department for his role in saving a 71-year-old woman from being sexually assaulted.

On March 21 a 71-year-old woman was taking her daily stroll in Kiwanis Park in Tempe, Arizona when a 30-year-old man attacked her. The man, now identified as s Kevin Caballero, threw the woman to the ground in the park and attempted to remove her pants.

Herron and a Phoenix resident, identified as Murry Rogers, were present during the assault attempt and intervened.

“It was a crazy experience,” Herron stated during a news conference on Wednesday, according to NBC affiliate KPNX. “It was something that I never dreamed that I thought I would see. You see it in movies and TV all the time but you never think it’s gonna happen in real life until it does. In that moment, I was in shock. It was 11, it was in the middle of the day, not one cloud in the sky, and in a very open field, and the fact that it happened there at that time was very shocking.”

At the time of the incident, Herron was working out by the lake and Rogers was getting ready for a birthday party in the park for his 15-year-old daughter.

“I’m a football player, I’m kind of big,” Herron who is Herron, who is 6-foot-5 and 305 pounds, stated during the news conference. “I try not to be too aggressive with people knowing I could potentially hurt somebody. I do have a loud voice. I yelled, told him to get off of her, and then yanked him off and I told him to sit down and I told him to wait until the cops come.”

For their actions, Herron and Rogers were presented with Outstanding Service Awards by the Tempe Police Department.

“These two individuals stepped forward and really, truly saved her life,” Tempe police chief Jeff Glover stated during the ceremony.

According to the Today Show, “Herron has been in Arizona for offseason training ahead of his second season with the Patriots. The team’s sixth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft out of Wake Forest University said he was just reacting when he saw the woman being attacked.”

“And in the moment, I wish I could tell you what I was thinking, but I just knew that someone needed help,” Herron said. “… All I could do was just rush myself over there and make sure and help the victim, and make sure that I comfort her and be the best person I can be.”

Herron and Rogers were able to meet with the woman who has yet to be identified.

“Over the past several days, I have thought about her and pictured her face, so it was really nice moment, and I’m really glad I got to meet her,” Rogers said during the ceremony.

“My parents always talked to me about it, if there’s someone in need, make sure you can help them and be the best you can be,” Herron added. “I don’t want this to happen again, I don’t want to have to save someone else’s life again, but I’m glad I was able to save someone’s life on Saturday.”

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Demi Lovato Says She Was Raped At 15 During Disney Days And Violated Again While Overdosing

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Demi Lovato Says She Was Raped At 15 During Disney Days And Violated Again While Overdosing

Demi Lovato is putting it all out on the table.

During her latest documentary Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil which premiered this past Tuesday at the SXSW Film Festival, the singer and actress revealed that she is a survivor of rape. Not just once, but tragically, twice. One of which occurred on the night of her overdose.

In her docuseries, Lovato revealed that she was sexually assaulted the night of her overdose by her drug dealer.

“I didn’t just overdose. I was taken advantage of,” the 28-year-old singer revealed in the documentary where Lovato’s friend Sirah Mitchell shared that she had been given heroin “laced with fentanyl” on the night of her overdose.

“He also ended up getting her really high and leaving her for dead,” Mitchell explained of the dealer.

“When they found me, I was naked, blue. I was literally left for dead after he took advantage of me,” Lovato shared. “When I woke up in the hospital, they asked if we had had consensual sex. There was one flash that I had of him on top of me. I saw that flash and I said yes. It wasn’t until a month after the overdose that I realized, ‘You weren’t in any state of mind to make a consensual decision.'”

Lovato became emotional later when she revealed that the trauma of that night brought up the memory of a previous sexual assault.

Lovato explained that when she “was a teenager, I was in a very similar situation. I lost my virginity in a rape.”

“I was part of that Disney crowd that publicly said they were waiting until marriage. I didn’t have the romantic first time,” Lovato explained. “That was not it for me — that sucked. Then I had to see this person all the time so I stopped eating and coped in other ways.”

Lovato went onto share that her alleged attacker “never got in trouble” for raping her even though she opened up to adults about the incident.

“They never got taken out of the movie they were in. I always kept it quiet because I’ve always had something to say. I don’t know, I’m tired of opening my mouth. Here’s the tea,” she explained.

Lovato said that after her last assault she attempted to “take control” by getting in contact with her abusers.

“I called that person back a month later and tried to make it right by being in control. All it did was make me feel worse,” she explained about the person who assaulted her as a teen. “Both times were textbook trauma re-enactments, and I really beat myself up for years which is why I had a really hard time coming to terms with the fact it was a rape when it happened.”

Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil premieres on YouTube on March 23.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, connect with a crisis counselor by texting “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.

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