‘Even Peacekeepers Expect Something in Return’: A Qualitative Analysis of Sexual Interactions between UN Peacekeepers and Female Haitians

Citation:

Vahedi, Luissa, Susan A. Bartels, and Sabine Lee. 2019. “‘Even Peacekeepers Expect Something in Return’: A Qualitative Analysis of Sexual Interactions between UN Peacekeepers and Female Haitians.” Global Public Health: 1–14. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2019.1706758.

Authors: Luissa Vahedi, Susan A. Bartels, Sabine Lee

Abstract:

The UN maintains a zero-tolerance policy on sexual interactions between peacekeepers and beneficiaries of assistance. Our research describes the lived experience of engaging sexually with UN peacekeepers during Mission des Nations Unies pour la Stabilisation en Haiti (MINUSTAH) from the perspectives of Haitian women/girls. Eighteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with Haitian women raising children fathered by MINUSTAH peacekeepers. Transcripts were analyzed according to empirical phenomenology. Adverse socio-economic conditions were key contextual factors. Three themes related to the nature of the sexual interactions emerged: sexual violence, transactional sex, and long-term transactional relationships imbedded in perceptions of love. Most sexual interactions were transactional and nuanced since the peacekeeper assumed the role of romantic and material provider. Sexual consent was conceptualised as the ability to weigh the benefits and consequences of engaging sexually with peacekeepers. Sexual violence was identified among minors and in instances of sexual abuse. This study provides empirical evidence to support a nuanced understanding of sexual relationships between women/girls and peacekeepers. In addition to holding peacekeepers accountable, a harm reduction approach that aims to raise awareness for peacekeeping codes of conduct and provide comprehensive reproductive and sexual education should be considered.

Keywords: Haiti, peacekeeping, transactional sex, sexual abuse and exploitation, United Nations

Topics: Gender, Women, Girls, Post-Conflict, Peacekeeping, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, SV against Women Regions: Americas, Caribbean countries Countries: Haiti

Year: 2019

© 2020 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.