U.N. peacekeepers in Haiti engaged in sex with hundreds of poor women, who traded their bodies for necessities, like food and medicine, a shocking new report by a watchdog group within the U.N. alleges. The report, which has not yet been released, but was revealed by The Washington Post with a copy obtained by the AP, found at least 225 cases of "transactional sex" between Haitian women and members of the U.N. stationed on the island. "'Church shoes,' cell phones, laptops, and perfume, as well as money," are listed as some of the items that the women received. Getting access to these goods was identified as the "triggering need" for the arrangement. Worst of all, over a third of the reported cases involved teens under the age of 18.
The U.N.'s Office of Internal Oversight Services conducted 231 interviews with Haitian people. Of these, only seven were aware that the U.N. prohibits the "exchange of money, employment, goods, or services for sex." The U.N. has over 125,000 peacekeepers stationed around the world, and about 7,000 in Haiti, which is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, and one of the poorest in the world. There have been reports of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers for at least a decade. In March 2005, then U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan addressed them in a statement, saying, "United Nations peacekeeping is a noble calling and serves as an integral part of the world’s efforts to maintain peace and security. Sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeeping personnel must first be eliminated and then prevented from happening again."