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The country used to be a premier destination in the s for sex tourism for adults, including gay men. Haiti suffers from extreme poverty, with much of the population living on less than a dollar a day; those with no other resources often turn to prostitution. After the earthquake , many prostitutes from the Dominican Republic crossed over the border, searching out clients amongst the aid workers and UN personal.
Dominican women command a premium because of their lighter skin. Several hundred Sri Lankan troops, part of the UN mission, were expelled from the country in They were involved in trafficking Haitian girls to Sri Lanka and also being involved in child prostitution locally. It was reported in that trafficked Dominican women had been found in brothels allegedly frequented by UN personnel. In the UN reported that between and , members of its peacekeeping mission had sexually abused more than Haitian women in exchange for food, medication, and other items.
The UN has a zero-tolerance policy towards its personnel visiting the local sex trade, but this is virtually unenforceable. In February an investigation by The Times newspaper found that Oxfam allowed three men to resign and sacked four for gross misconduct after an inquiry concerning sexual exploitation, the downloading of pornography, bullying and intimidation.
Among the staff who were permitted to resign was the charity's Belgian country director, Roland Van Hauwermeiren. According to the internal report, Van Hauwermeiren admitted using prostitutes at a villa whose rent was paid for by Oxfam with charitable funds. In light of the information revealed by The Times , a spokesperson for the Commission commented that: "We will expect the charity to provide us with assurance that it has learnt lessons from past incidents".
Following the publication of the Times' report, Oxfam issued a statement in which it asserted "Oxfam treats any allegation of misconduct extremely seriously. As soon as we became aware of a range of allegations — including of sexual misconduct — in Haiti in we launched an internal investigation.