Along Haiti’s southeast, about 25 miles from Jeremie, lies the mountainous town of Beaumont. The small palm tree-lined town of 12,486 inhabitants is a beacon for families from surrounding villages looking to educate their children. But lately, it has become a nightmare. That town is where at least 84 high schoolers became pregnant, most of them when schools shut down between April and August because of the novel coronavirus.
Gerald Guillaume, a coordinator with anti-human trafficking group Idette, said some of the students got impregnated by having consensual sexual relationship with other minors but in most cases, prominent men coerced less fortunate women and girls in the area.
“The girls who came from rural areas to attend school were vulnerable,” Guillaume said. “They couldn’t handle the pain of being hungry anymore, and that was an opportunity for men to take advantage of them and abuse them sexually.”
Sexual abuse and sexual assault of women and girls have reached crisis levels in Haiti. Just two weeks ago, FIFA banned Haiti’s ex-soccer president Yves ‘Dadou’ Jean-Bart from the sport after he was found guilty of sexually coercing players, including several minors. More Haiti soccer officials and some male athletes are suspected of abusing players.