Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Videos Explore Rape in Haiti & South Africa

Two recent online video documentaries explore separate cultural perspectives on the issue of rape.

"Inside the Cycle of Rape" (PBS/Frontline) examines a warden's attempt to rehabilitate a group of perpetrators in a South African prison.

Reporter Elena Ghanotakis (pictured) went to Cape Town for the first time in 2004 on a post-graduate fellowship from Dartmouth College to do HIV awareness work with women and girls. "Through this experience, I met many women and children whose lives had been devastated by sexual violence and abuse."

Eventually, I received permission from Pollsmoor Prison, a maximum security facility on the outskirts of Cape Town, to interview dozens of men convicted of rape. The permission process to film at Pollsmoor took 2 years...

My guide inside Pollsmoor was warden and therapist Chris Malgas, who runs a counseling program for convicted offenders using groupwork and individual therapy. My follow up story is a raw look at some of those interactions between Chris and his group, a testament to why it's so difficult to stop South Africa's cycle of sexual abuse...

The perpetrators testimonies provide a grim picture of growing up in the townships and the crimes these men committed. Many talked about being exposed to violent gang culture from a young age, where rape was a rite of passage.

During my time at Pollsmoor, I learned as much about Chris, a 33-year veteran of the prison system, and his motivation to keep his voluntary program going, as I did about the environment inside and outside prison that grooms these men to commit their crimes...


"Children of Rape" ( looks at sexual violence and its legacy in post-quake Haiti. Meredith Birkett tells us, "I produced this story with the raw materials reported by Nadav Neuhaus. It was a very difficult story to report, but Nadav did a wonderful job of working with the rape victims in a sensitive way and depicting their plight with respect." The video is accompanied by a slideshow.

A year after Haiti’s devastating earthquake, women in Haiti’s still-teeming tent cities face yet another threat: sexual violence. With little protection from community or law enforcement, many have been violently raped, only to become pregnant with their attackers’ children.

Photojournalist Nadav Neuhaus traveled through Haiti’s tent cities last summer, photographing and interviewing dozens of residents in the camps that still house more than 1 million people. During a visit to Camp La Piste, home to 50,000 displaced people, Neuhaus noticed an unusually high number of pregnant women. A community organizer and a local midwife confirmed his worries: Many of the women were pregnant as a result of rape.

They came to Camp La Piste after losing parents, brothers and husbands in the earthquake, leaving them to fend for themselves in the sprawling squalor, where roving gangs of armed men terrorize residents.

In a new report, Amnesty International documents the rise in sexual violence, including at least 250 rapes reported in the first few months after the earthquake. Fueled in part by these sexual attacks, the birth rate in Haiti has tripled since the quake, climbing from 4 percent to 12 percent, according to population experts.

Most women told Neuhaus they don’t report the rapes, either out of shame or fear of repercussions. Even if they wanted to report the crimes, there's little help in a country where police and justice systems are destroyed or distracted and where resources for the powerless are almost non-existent.

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