Creating Long-Term Solutions
After the earthquake, MADRE helped to launch an international initiative to ensure that women's voices are heard in every stage of Haiti's reconstruction. With your support, MADRE secured a ground-breaking ruling demanding increased security and governmental action in response to the epidemic levels of sexual violence Haitian women and girls have faced since the earthquake.
Ensuring Haitian Women a Voice in the Reconstruction Process
- In advance of the March 31 Haiti Donors' Conference at United Nations headquarters, MADRE issued an open letter calling on governments to enact a human rights-based response to the earthquake.
- On March 31, MADRE organized a press conference to call for the effective participation of Haitian women in the rebuilding process. The press conference featured Edwidge Danticat, a Haitian writer and long-time friend of MADRE; Marie St. Cyr, a Haitian human rights advocate and MADRE Board Member, and representatives of UN agencies working in Haiti.
Human Rights Advocacy
With your help, MADRE and our sister organization KOFAVIV have brought international attention to the human rights crisis facing Haitian women:
- In June, MADRE representatives attended a dialogue at the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and talked with State members as well as experts about critical issues women in Haiti face, including sexual violence. They also discussed the legal obligation to have women's voices included in decision-making processes.
- In July, MADRE along with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), TransAfrica Forum and the law schools of the Universities of Virginia and Minnesota released Our Bodies are Still Trembling: Haitian Womens' Fight Against Rape. The report made an impact throughout the international community and set the stage for major legal decisions to address the rape epidemic in Haiti's IDP camps.
- In August, KOFAVIV helped organize a sit-in to demand shelter and immediate action to combat violence against women.
- In January 2011, in preparation for the one year anniversary of the earthquake, MADRE and partners have released a follow up report to the important report released in July. The report describes the ongoing crisis of women in Haiti and offers concrete recommendations for the Haitian government, the United Nations and the US and other Donor States to address the epidemic of sexual violence in Haiti.
Haitian women still face a constant threat of sexual violence, but thanks to the advocacy you supported, there have been important gains:
- The UN increased training on gender-based violence for police officers, educating them on the seriousness of the crimes and how to deal sensitively with the survivors. Over 800 officers have received the training.
- The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued groundbreaking recommendations requesting that the Haitian government and the international community take immediate measures to prevent sexual violence against women and girls in displacement camps. This important decision includes legally binding recommendations to ensure that there be:
- Special medical provisions for survivors of rape and sexual violence, including privacy during examinations, female medical staff, emergency contraception and preventative measures against HIV infection.
- Increased security patrols and lighting in the camps and more female police officers in the patrols and in police stations in precincts near the camps.
- Special training on responding to sexual violence for public officials.
- Special police units established to investigate cases of rape and other forms of violence against women and girls.
- Full participation and leadership for grassroots women's organizations in planning and implementing policies and practices to combat and prevent sexual violence in the camps.
- As we move into the second year of addressing the many destructive impacts of the earthquake, MADRE is working to ensure that governments and international organizations uphold their financial commitments and legal obligations to Haiti.
Over the past year, your generosity has literally saved lives in Haiti. And you have made sure that thousands of women have vital resources to begin to rebuild their lives on a stronger foundation. From a simple whistle to deter a rapist to new precedents in international law, you have given the women of Haiti something necessary for survival: hope.
photo © Dan Lundmark via Flickr
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