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MADRE Calls for International Solidarity with Haitian Women's Human Rights Defenders under Threat

Posted on: Monday, November 4, 2013

Keywords: Haiti, Latin America and Caribbean, Combating Violence against Women

On the morning of October 24, 2013, women at the Haitian organization KOFAVIV were targeted with the latest in a series of violent threats. 

A man, who witnesses indicate was armed, stationed himself outside the KOFAVIV Center. He accosted a KOFAVIV activist on her way in, demanding that Malya Villard Appolon, the General Coordinator of KOFAVIV, appear before him. On that same day, workers at the KOFAVIV Call Center received a threatening phone call. 

MADRE was able to maintain constant contact with Malya over Skype during the hours that she and her staff were unable to leave the KOFAVIV Center. We reached out to our allies on the ground in Haiti and internationally to provide support and protection. The man escaped before the police were able to detain him. Fortunately, he was never able to enter the KOFAVIV Center. 

This incident reveals a clear escalation in a pattern of intimidation and harassment against the leadership and staff of KOFAVIV, targeted as prominent voices calling for women’s human rights protections in Haiti. 

These threats and acts of violence follow a wave of recent violent attacks.
  • On August 23, armed men arrived at Malya’s home. They fired several rounds of bullets into her front gate.
  • On September 4, three other KOFAVIV staff members were held at gunpoint near the KOFAVIV Center. The assailants sped away with the staff members’ wallets, cell phones, and the keys to the KOFAVIV car which the organization uses to transport rape survivors to the hospitals and to the courts.
  • On September 15, Malya came back to her house to find that both of her dogs had been poisoned.
MADRE condemns these attacks against KOFAVIV and all women’s human rights defenders in Haiti and globally. We call on the international community to address the threats to women’s human rights defenders and to provide the necessary resources for human rights activists to do their work safely and sustainably.
Update: MADRE has been coordinating an urgent response, reaching out to allied organizations to mobilize emergency funds and assistance with security planning. We were able to help secure Malya's home and the safety of the shelter residents and the staff at the KOFAVIV Center. We have been working with a coalition of international organizations to maximize the safety and well-being of the staff and shelter residents at the KOFAVIV Center.

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