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Haiti Post-Quake Rape Fears Rise; Threat High After Earthquake Prison Break

(AP Photo/Paul Jeffery)
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (CBS) Already vulnerable Haitian women and girls who survived the devastating earthquake are being harassed and raped in the makeshift camps that have sprung up all over the capital of Port-Au-Prince - possibly by some of the prisoners who escaped the National Penitentiary after it collapsed.

Photo: A young Haitian girl waits for supplies after the devastating earthquake Jan. 12.

Haiti's national police chief, Mario Andresol, told the London Times more than 7,000 prisoners have escaped the prison since the quake on Jan. 12.

"It took us five years to detain them," Andresol said, ''today they are running wild."

Photo: A Haitian woman walks through one of the many tent camps around the city.

The bandits are taking full advantage of the blackout in Haiti's capital and the vulnerability of the makeshift tents and shelters, said Andresol.

Rachelle Dolce, who is living in one such makeshift camp on the Petionville Club Golf Course, told the paper she thought she heard a rape outside her tent the previous night.

"I heard a fight outside, and I saw panties on the ground," she said, "I started to shout a lot and they left."

Although official numbers on sexual assaults since the earthquake are not available, a number of women's organizations have alerted the United Nations mission in Haiti, detailing cases they were aware of, Andresol told the newspaper.

His warning came a day after the UN human rights chief, Navi Pillay, said that gangsters and child traffickers could try to exploit the chaos triggered by the earthquake to step up their criminal activities.

The US State Department said yesterday that it's working with Haiti's government to crack down on trafficking.

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