Haitian Women Fight Sexual Violence
Written by Amie Newman for RHRealityCheck.org - News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.
A small group of women in colorful shirts, jeans and skirts stands in a circle, singing and clapping. Some are smiling. All are dancing, shaking their bodies to the sound of their voices strong and loud. One woman dances in the middle, spinning. They are singing in French and it could be a celebration of some sort. In a way, it is. It's a celebration of their power, as they unify to protect themselves and all women who live in post-earthquake Hatiian displacement camps from sexual assault, rape and other gender-based violence. Some are members of KOFAVIV (being filmed by representives of sister organization Madre), a Hatiian women's organization working to end sexual violence and seek justice for rape survivors. In conjunction with other women's organizations on the ground, and U.S.-based sister organizations, they are committed to protecting the women and girls living in the displacement camps from gender-based violence, from which the government has been unable or unwilling to do so. As RH Reality Check reported on in July of this year, women and girls have been the target of "skyrocketing" incidences "of rape in the camps" and are suffering from "the lack of a coordinated or effective response to these persistent threats." Up until recently, KOFAVIV and other women's advocates have been effectively shut out of the discussions between aid agencies and the government on how best to protect themselves, in the camps. Slowly, however, things may be changing. Read more