‘Even peacekeepers expect something in return’: a qualitative analysis of sexual interactions between UN peacekeepers and female Haitians

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Authors

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Queen's University, Kingston

Abstract

The UN maintains a zero-tolerance policy on sexual interactions between peacekeepers and beneficiaries of assistance. Our research describes the lived experience of engaging in sexual relationships with UN peacekeepers from the perspectives of Haitian women/girls who conceived children with peacekeepers during Mission des Nations Unies pour la Stabilisation en Haiti (MINUSTAH). Eighteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with Haitian women raising children fathered by MINUSTAH peacekeepers. Transcripts were analyzed according to empirical phenomenology.
Adverse socio-economic conditions were key contextual factors. Three themes related to the nature of the sexual interactions emerged: sexual violence, transactional sex, and long-term transactional relationships imbedded in perceptions of love. Most sexual interactions were transactional and nuanced since the peacekeeper assumed the role of romantic and material provider. Sexual consent was conceptualized as the ability to weigh the benefits and consequences of engaging sexually with peacekeepers. Sexual violence was identified among minors and in instances of sexual abuse.
This study provides empirical evidence to support a nuanced understanding of sexual relationships between women/girls and peacekeepers. In addition to holding peacekeepers accountable, a harm reduction approach that aims to raise awareness for peacekeeping codes of conduct and provide comprehensive reproductive and sexual education should be considered.

Details

Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020

Keywords

  • Haiti, peacekeeping, transactional sex, sexual abuse and exploitation, United Nations