From the Windsor Star, writer Don Lajoie and photographer Rob Gurdebeke traveled to Haiti for a series of stories they produced while doing aid work in Haiti. First, the following video gives an overview of the countries relationship. Then Lajoie tackles the issue of "Mission Sex"
Mission sex -- it's Haiti's dirty little secret.
The western world's poorest country is, according to one aid worker, a "perfect storm" of socio-economic conditions for abuse by visiting humanitarians. It's tropical temperatures and breathtaking natural beauty are easily, and cheaply, accessible from North America. Heavily dependent on foreign aid and with virtually no regulation of its schools and orphanages, Haiti's justice system is ill-equipped to deal with a rising tide of sex tourism.
Peacekeeping troops, aid workers, non-governmental organization employees, priests and missionaries engage in sexual exploitation with arrogant impunity, according to Save the Children, the world's largest children's rights organization.
And, sadly, they say, when dollars are dangled as bait, many Haitians will turn a blind eye.
"All those who come here know this is a very poor country, that there are few opportunities for youth," said Margarett Lubin, Save the Children's local child protection manager. "When financial opportunities are offered, the children enter relationships.... Do their communities see it as exploitation or do they see it as opportunity?"
Haiti has neither adequate sex-offender laws nor the police to enforce them. That helps explain why sex-tourist exporters such as Canada and the U.S. are doing the job themselves, using provisions in their criminal codes.
- Windsor priest Rev. John Duarte faces nine counts of sexually exploiting adolescent boys in Port-au-Prince and the northern village of Labadie, where he ran a mission, following a two-year investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police and RCMP.
- American missionary Douglas Perlitz faces nearly identical charges in nearby Cap Haitien for allegedly abusing nine boys at the school he founded for poor children. That case is before the courts in the U.S.