By Rachel Belt
Caribbean News Now Contributor
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN) — A Haitian policewoman, who was the victim of a rape attempt from a UN soldier two years ago, said on Tuesday the lack of sanctions by UN authorities against peacekeepers involved in rape in Haiti could be a cause for the continued sexual violence perpetrated by blue berets in the Caribbean country.
Orline Merilan, a courageous Haitian policewoman, said she was the subject of a rape attempt in March 2011 by a UN police officer from Pakistan, Muhammad Naseem, as she fell asleep in her dormitory in the police station in the town of Croix-des-Bouquets, outside the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince.
“I was sleeping in the women’s dormitory when I felt a hand touching me, caressing me and when I woke up he tried to hold me,” Merilan told HCNN.
“I fought with him, controlled him and handcuffed him to the rail of the bed,” she said.
The incident occurred in the night of the 13th to the 14th of March 2011, but since then no sanctions against the aggressor have been taken or announced by UN or Pakistani authorities.
“When such acts and other rape cases continue to go unpunished, it tells other potential rapists within the UN and elsewhere that they may continue to rape because they will pay no consequences,” Merilan stated.
About two and a half years later, the Haitian policewoman is still expecting a response from the UN as to the follow-up given to the case. Following the incident a team from the UN headquarters in New York traveled to Haiti to hear Merilan.
“I consider that, in his mind, he did it because he did all he could to materialize the rape, but I happened to use my tactic to block him,” explained Merilan. “Sanctions must be taken,” she said.
HCNN contacted on Tuesday the UN mission’s spokesperson in Haiti, Sophie Boutaud de la Combe, for comment on UN policy and responses regarding rape cases blamed on UN soldiers, but promised answers have not yet been provided.
Several UN soldiers have been accused of rape against several Haitian women and boys without perpetrators being punished. The most recent example is the case of an 18-year-old woman who was allegedly raped, last week, by a Sri Lankan soldier near the southern town of Leogane.
A UN internal investigation is underway and Haitian authorities, through the minister in charge of women’s affairs, have also promised to take the case as far as possible to make sure necessary sanctions are applied.
The UN Stabilization Mission, known as MINUSTAH, was deployed to Haiti in 2004 following political conflicts that resulted in the departure for exile of then president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.