"Even Peacekeepers Expect Something in Return": An Exploratory Epidemiological Analysis of Sexual Interactions between UN Peacekeepers and Haitian Females
Epidemiology , Peacekeeping , United Nations , Gender , Transactional sex , Sexual Abuse and Exploitation
Background: In 2004, the UN sanctioned The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) to address Haiti's political instability. Reports of sexual misconduct perpetrated by peacekeeping personnel, including children fathered by peacekeepers, were made during the course of MINUSTAH. To date no epidemiological studies have analyzed the distribution and determinants of civilian-peacekeeper sexual interactions. Objectives: (1) Analyze gender differences among perceptions of civilian-peacekeeper sexual interactions; (2) Explore the association between location (rural, semi-urban, urban) and the presence of narratives about civilian-peacekeeper sexual interactions; (3) Investigate the relationship between narratives of civilian-peacekeeper sexual interactions and the willingness to engage with the UN. Methods: In 2017, a cross-sectional survey was administered by Haitian research assistants using SenseMaker®, a rapid mixed-methods data collection tool that allows participants to share a narrative on a topic of interest. In total, 2541 self-interpreted narratives pertaining to the experiences of women/girls in relation to the UN were collected across Haiti. Secondary data analysis using log-binomial regression modeled the relationships of interest. Statistical analysis was performed using SAS 9.4. Results: (1) Compared to males, female Haitians were more likely to perceive civilian-peacekeeper sexual interactions as relationships and to perceive the peacekeeper as wealthy and able to provide support. (2) After adjustment, Haitians living in rural areas were more likely (RRrural: 1.19; 95% CI: 1.03, 1.38) to share a narrative about sexual interactions with peacekeepers, compared to Haitians living in urban areas. (3) The association between narratives of civilian-peacekeeper sexual interactions and the willingness to engage with the UN was modified by who the narrative was about. Haitians who expressed personal experiences of sexual interactions were more likely (RRsex: 4.52; 95% CI: 3.34, 6.12) to reject the UN/MINUSTAH, compared to Haitians who shared personal positive/neutral narratives of MINUSTAH. Conclusion: Narratives of civilian-peacekeeper sexual interactions were perceived differently by men and women, geographically distributed, and associated with rejecting the UN/MINUSTAH. This epidemiological analysis is an empirical steppingstone to understanding the distribution and determinants of civilian-peacekeeper sexual interactions.