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One of the other issues that these girls face is rape. Madeleine has been raped and beaten several times, and sometimes, after the men have sex with her, they refuse to pay.
She only stays out on the streets long enough to make150 gourds ($3.70), which is just enough to buy food for herself and her family. Then she returns to the tent, where she sleeps in a cramped corner on a dirty blanket on the floor with her brother.
“Usually I take 50 gourds [$1.25] that night to eat and I save 100 gourds [$2.50] for the next day,” Madeleine says. “With that money, I prepare food for everyone in the tent. I cannot buy rice, but I prepare spaghetti, something that is very easy and cheap.”
By day, at times, Madeleine seems just like any other teenage girl. She jokes, laughing raucously with neighbors, and stands in the doorway to the tent painting her nails a deep brown. She does this every week, she says, because it makes her feel pretty. But as she stares at her hand, waiting for her nails to dry, she becomes wistful.
“I don’t like what she does, but I don’t have another way to provide,” says Madeleine’s aunt, Marguerite, as she turns to look at Madeleine.
At first, when Marguerite saw Madeleine going out, all dressed up, she was angry, because she assumed Madeleine was going to parties. But when Madeleine returned with money, Marguerite realized what she was doing, but has had to turn a blind eye. She would like Madeleine to return to school, but there is barely enough money to eat, let alone pay fees.
Like many Haitians, Madeleine and her aunt believe that President Martelly will do something to help them.
“I am expecting [the government] will do something for us because they say they are going to do something for those people living in the camps,” says Madeleine.
Requests for a comment from President Martelly about the issue of child prostitution went unanswered, but Parry says that the Haitian government and international community are going to have to do a better job of coordinating efforts to help not just the girls, but all displaced persons.
“There needs to be long-term investment and a comprehensive plan for creating sustainable economic viability,” says Parry. “It really requires listening, which seems to be the greatest failure of international humanitarian systems.”
Parry says that organizations like Fonkoze, Zafen and The Lambi Fund, which offer micro-financing, education and training, could provide a way out of prostitution for these young women.
“They could develop marketable skills, begin a business or get hired for a job, save money, afford to move out of the camp into a community, and so on,” says Parry. “Of course, there are other pieces to the puzzle which could be addressed with good coordination across resources and agencies: safe places to live and land to live on, homes that are built to safe and affordable standards, community networks, water and sanitation.”
For the foreseeable future, Madeleine will have to continue working as a prostitute. Now that the rainy season has begun, it has been hard for her to work at night, which means that she and her family have again been going days without food.
Before she goes to sleep, Madeleine prays that God will send someone who can help her and her family. Her greatest wish is to return to school. Sometimes, Madeleine sees her old classmates who ask when she plans to reenroll. Occasionally, she runs into them when she is out working on the street at night.
“I still have friends that I used to have before the earthquake, but they don't know what kind of life I have,” she says. “When they say ‘Madeleine, what are you doing here?’ I say, ‘I came here to buy something,’ or ‘I am waiting for someone.’”
To cheer herself up on days when she is especially depressed, Madeleine says she remembers the afternoons spent on the streets with these other friends, doing other things. She and her friends would joke with each other and make mischief by playfully bumping into people as they walked home from school.
“Now when I go to fetch water and I look at the girls coming from school in their uniforms, I have that memory, and I smile,” she says.
This reporting project was supported with a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
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Three suspects accused of holding a couple of runaway girls against their will so they could pimp them out as prostitutes were charged Sunday with raps including attempted sexual trafficking, sources said.
Rocker Rudy, 19, Donald Jackson, 19, and Berisa Nebahate, 19, were arrested Saturday after one of the two teens used a phone to “ping” her father’s cell from East New York, law-enforcement sources said.
All three suspects have been charged with attempted compelling prostitution, attempted sex trafficking, attempted promoting prostitution, attempted labor trafficking and child endangerment, according to cops.
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