MADRE at the United Nations Human Rights Council

This week, MADRE and our partners are in Geneva at the 14th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Testifying for Haitian Women's Human Rights

Malya Villard-Appolon, a Haitian women’s rights activist and MADRE partner who has lived in the camps for displaced people since the earthquake destroyed her home in January, testified Monday before representatives from the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Malya, a leader of KOFAVIV, a MADRE's sister organization in Haiti, testified about the skyrocketing incidence of rape in the camps. She identifies herself as a rape survivor and described measures that governments need to take to prevent sexual violence in Haiti.

Why It Matters

Testifying before the Human Rights Council, which is comprised of 47 national delegates, is a way to talk directly to governments about conditions that Haitian women are facing in the camps for internally displaced persons. Getting Malya's testimony on the record is part of MADRE's campaign to press governments, particularly the major financers of Haiti's reconstruction, to act to reduce gender-based violence in the camps.

In the short-term, we want governments to enact preventative measures like lighting in the camps and secure latrines. In the longer-term, we want Haitian women's rights to be upheld at all stages of reconstruction and for women's human rights to be integrated into disaster response and rebuilding, not just in Haiti, but around the world.

Having Malya come from the camps to tell her story to the governments of the world is a first step towards achieving these goals. 

Read the press release »

Read Malya's testimony »

Watch the video of Malya's testimony »

Statement submitted to the UN Human Rights Council »

Read more about the recent delegation to Haiti »

Blog entry from the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) »


Fighting for Reproductive Choice at the UN Human Rights Council

On June 9, 2010, MADRE lent a hand to Nicaraguan women's rights activist Azahalea Solis Roman, who testified before the UN Human Rights Council against her country's ban on therapeutic abortions.

About the Ban

In 2006, Nicaragua's National Assembly voted to ban all therapeutic abortions, even in cases of rape, incest or danger to a woman's life.

The law denies life-saving treatment to women and has greatly increased the number of women seeking unsafe, illegal abortions. Doctors concerned about facing possible criminal charges are dissuaded from providing non-abortion medical treatments that may cause unintentional damage to the fetus.

Since the ban, MADRE has been part of a coalition of US-based and Nicaraguan organizations that prepared an international legal challenge to Nicaragua's abortion ban. As a result of this challenge, the government of Nicaragua was asked by the UN Committee Against Torture, the UN Human Rights Council, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to review the law banning abortion and decriminalize therapeutic abortions. Nicaragua has so far failed to comply with this demand. MADRE is determined to keep up the pressure until Nicaragua respects women's reproductive rights.

Watch Azahalea's testimony (in English) »

Watch Azahalea's testimony (in Spanish) »

Read the report »