POVERTY AND PROSTITUTION IN HAITI
Haiti’s Horrendous Teenage Prostitution Problem
With fewer shelters, more girls—many orphans from the quake—have no choice but to have sex just to scrape by. Lisa Armstrong reports on their brutal reality and the aid groups trying to help.
June 17, 2011 6:36 PM EDT
The women who work the streets near Champs de Mars, Port au Prince’s main park, are brazen. They pose under streetlights, where the men drinking kleren, cheap, homemade alcohol, at makeshift bars, and the foreigners returning to Le Plaza Hotel can see them. Should a car pause, just long enough, along noisy Rue Capois, the main road that separates the sea of tents and tarps of the Champs de Mars camp from the hotel, the women approach, flirt, and proposition.
The teenagers who stand a few blocks away, on the dark corner by the Monsieur Henri Photo Studio, pose too. They lean against the fence, hips jutted out, their legs exposed by scanty pink shorts and skimpy dresses. But they look like little girls playing dress up, with their bright purple eye shadow, tinted hair, and glossy red lips. And they stay in the shadows, run from cars that linger too long, as if they at once want to be seen but at the same time want to make themselves invisible.
“This is how we make money. This is how we eat,” says Madeleine, a 16-year-old with dark eyes, full lips, and a shoulder-length black weave. “But I am ashamed. I feel embarrassed of what I am doing. I have no choice, I must accept what is going on, but it is not my will.”
Photograph by Andre Lambertston