Summer Walker

This brief summarizes research conducted in December 2022 on gender-based violence (GBV) in Cité Soleil, an impoverished, high-density commune of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. GBV – and sexual violence, in particular – has escalated dramatically in Port-au-Prince in recent years, as gangs have multiplied and taken greater control over communities, local economies and many aspects of daily life. Clashes between armed gangs, including attempts to take over territory, have severely affected security, particularly for women and girls.

A report by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), published in October 2022, documented how gangs have used rape and other forms of sexual violence in their quest for power and to instill fear in communities. Meanwhile, a breakdown in public safety across Port-au-Prince is a risk factor associated with increasing levels of GBV and reduces the ability to respond in an effective way.

This brief focuses on research collected in and around Cité Soleil (in the areas of Brooklyn, Sarthe and Village des Rapatriés), using a questionnaire, focus groups and a round table discussion. The study assesses five aspects of vulnerability: safety, legal protection, mental well-being, economic empowerment and education. This research was undertaken under very difficult conditions, and with a high degree of sensitivity to the subject matter and involvement of participants.

This brief offers insight into the current state of GBV in Cité Soleil and identifies potential areas of support for donors and organizations interested in improving the situation. It offers three overarching recommendations, as outlined in the conclusion: building the capacity of institutions that women trust, identifying the ways women organize locally, and developing cross-sector cooperation.