The United Nations has launched a new operation to combat rape and gender violence in Haiti, where some 1.3 million people were made homeless by January’s devastating earthquake, with the majority still living in camps. Police and soldiers from the UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSTAH) and Haitian national police (PNH), who are often the first responders, are being trained to tackle the problem and ensure medical services for victims, the top UN official in Haiti told the Security Council today.

One returned to her Haitian roots, to give voice to women, honor their stories and shape their futures. Another urged women to pack a courtroom in Haiti, where she succeeded in getting a guilty verdict against a man who battered his wife. A third joined the others and helped change the law to make rape, long a political weapon in Haiti, a punishable crime. Myriam Merlet, Magalie Marcelin and Anne Marie Coriolan, founders of three of the country's most important advocacy organizations working on behalf of women and girls, are confirmed dead -- victims of last week's 7.0 earthquake.

The government of Haiti is failing to protect the country's girls against rape and sexual violence, Amnesty International said, as it launched a report calling for authorities to recognise the severity of the problem.
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