March 14, 2011
I really, really wanted to like Mac McClelland’s one-year anniversary article, Aftershocks: Welcome to Haiti’s Reconstruction Hell. Good writing aside however—and the fact that these guys and many of these guys dug it—I have a problem with a 6,000-word piece of journalism that holds no specific office or official to account for Port-au-Prince’s misery upon miseries:
“Every day it is like this: fighting, a lot of violence, murder, a lot of rape,” [MINUSTAH soldiers] say, shaking their heads. “A lot of rape.”
That’s like there being a decade-long rape epidemic in New York City and a reporter not asking any public official, why? Followed by, what are you doing about it? Followed by, why aren’t you doing anything about it? — Snow wasn’t removed on time after a huge storm this holiday season and within hours every New Yorker knew the name of the head of the department of sanitation. No reporter would’ve covered that story without answering the main question: “Who f%$ked up?”—and that’s just snow. The same news gathering standard should apply to rape.
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August 1, 2010
Self portrait: 10-year-old rape victim, Flore (not her real name)
This past Friday, one of nine remaining tents in one of Port-au-Prince’s better camps went to a 33-year-old mother of five whose 10-year-old daughter had been raped and molested by at least three different men on three separate occasions in another camp. I happened to be there reporting another story so after, I went to find this woman. I’ll call her Marie.
My translator’s face froze at a few points during the interview, which lasted about 45 minutes. Marie’s daughter was bright and cheery, giggling while taking pictures of her younger brothers and sisters with my digicam (it was upside down most of the time) while us four adults sat cross-legged on the ground. After a bit of chit-chat I asked the fourth adult, a male member of the camp committee who showed us to the tent, to leave. No fuss displayed but I’d basically come into someone’s house, his camp, and asked him to scram. My translator went outside to smooth that over. On his return, alone, Marie sat up and started talking like I’d flipped a switch.
In my mind, her story is a stand-in for those of the mothers of another camp, Tapis Rouge, where a woman leader said in reply to my direct question, “There’s no rape but a lot of our teen girls are pregnant.”
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