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The year-old mother of three has been a sex worker in the city for nine years. Like almost everyone here, she lost relatives in the catastrophic earthquake that devastated the capital in January The disaster killed between , and , people and initially displaced 2. Homes were buried in rubble, while markets and government buildings were completely destroyed, in a country already ranked the poorest in the western hemisphere. Natasha bottled up her grief and began working again later that week.
Aid workers from around the world arrived in their thousands to assist with the recovery. Natasha could earn big money. When I said no he got really aggressive and his friend had to stop him from hitting me. He had his arm raised already. Natasha adds that she always insists that the man wears a condom, which would occasionally spark altercations.
A number of British NGOs signed an open letter last week published in the Huffington Post, announcing new measures to protect people in the places in which they work. I never did it, but I saw some people who did. A UN report , published in May , found that members of its peacekeeping mission in Haiti traded sex for aid with more than women between and Though sex work is illegal in Haiti , carrying a sentence of up to 15 years for those who knowingly use the services of a trafficked sex worker, the law is seldom enforced.
Many sex workers find clients on the streets, while others are based in high-end bars and clubs in affluent neighbourhoods. Pickup trucks emblazoned with NGO logos manoeuvre through the winding streets, passing heavily armed officers wearing blue helmets from the UN policing mission. Supermarkets sell imported goods from the US at prices no average Haitian can afford. At night, there is a desolate feel to the place.
Fearing street crime, pedestrians stay indoors. Every restaurant or bar sits behind gates and barbed wire, protected by shotgun-carrying security guards. On the street corners, sex workers varying in age wait around for clients, huddled in groups of about five. Magdala, 25, has been working the streets for a year and spends almost everything she earns on feeding her one-year-old son.