U.N. official clarifies ‘elation’ at Haiti rape reports
The deputy head of the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, Anthony Banbury, raised some eyebrows this week when he told journalists that reports of only three recent rapes in the impoverished Caribbean nation “almost elates me” — ostensibly because the situation could be much worse.
A day later Banbury issued a statement clarifying his views on the issue:
“My remarks make clear my strong commitment to human rights protection issues, and my conviction that three rapes is ‘far too many’. I said that reports of only three rapes ‘almost elates me’ because of deep concern – by myself and human rights protection experts – that the large numbers of people who are living in cramped and onerous conditions in displaced persons camps could lead to serious protection issues, especially with regard to sexual violence against women and children. If the total number of rape cases is indeed three, while ‘far too many’, it would show that efforts by the U.N. and our partners to enhance protection measures for women and children in the camps were working to a large extent, and our worst fears were not materializing. This would be a source of encouragement. I have dedicated many years to protecting the human rights of vulnerable populations, and my career to public service. Far from belittling the crime of rape, my clear intention was to convey a sense of U.N. commitment and concern about human rights protection.”
What do you think about Banbury’s remarks?
photo credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria (A U.N. soldier in Port-au-Prince)