Haiti Update:

Rape Accountability and Prevention

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Executive Summary of the Project

Since the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, women and girls living in the internally displaced persons camps face alarming rates of rape and other forms of gender-based violence. In many camps, the rate of gender-based violence has exploded to three times pre-earthquake levels. In the year since the earthquake, our partners at KOFAVIV have documented 640 cases of rape in 2010.

This pilot project is designed to provide security in the Place Petion community of Champ de Mars using women-led, community-based security teams to patrol the camp, discourage and disrupt incidents of gender-based violence and provide necessary escort services to vulnerable residents.

The Goldin Institute has partnered with KOFAVIV, FAVILEK, the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and its network of partners throughout Haiti to build and support a women-led, community-based pilot security platform in one representative displacement camp. This project builds on the strategy developed and implemented by KOFAVIV and FAVILEK, the GI's experience in creating grassroots partnerships for social change and the BAI / IJDH's capacity for legal advocacy in Haiti.

As part of the Rape Accountability and Prevention Project in Haiti, this security platform aims to prevent gender-based violence through the leadership and strategies of women's networks while the work of prosecution is ongoing. This pilot project is designed to serve as a model for community engagement and the provision of security that can be adopted by NGOs and the Government of Haiti.

Project Rationale

The problem of GBV in post-earthquake Haiti must be understood within the broader context of the humanitarian response. There is a demonstrated lack of governmental response to sexual violence occurring in the camps. This failure to act appears to have two prongs—the Haitian Government lacks both the political will and the capacity to respond. Furthermore, despite billions of dollars being pledged by the international community for recovery, aid efforts have struggled to meet the basic needs of people living in IDP camps. Having no other options, Haitian grassroots women's groups have resorted to taking charge of their own security. Haitian women are both disproportionately impacted by the crisis and key to their country's recovery.

The reality is that grassroots women's groups have been mostly shut out from the process of crafting a response to the real threat of rapes in the camps. Meanwhile, they have mobilized their own solutions, distributing whistles to women living in camps and organizing groups of women to accompany each other to vulnerable locations like latrines, where many attacks have previously taken place. Each of the women engaged in the project brings a deep commitment to the work, and their life stories are a testament to that dedication.

Brief History of the Project

The Haiti Rape Accountability and Prevention Project (RAPP) is designed to respond to the epidemic of rapes against poor women and girls in Haiti in the wake of the January 12, 2010 earthquake. The program includes four closely integrated components: legal advocacy, healthcare, organizing, and public advocacy. RAPP provides individual victims of sexual assault the legal services they need to obtain justice and compensation, while working with allies in Haiti and abroad to transform the social context that underlies the vulnerability of all poor Haitian women to assault. The Project also aims to deter future rape by punishing the perpetrators and forcing a more effective response by law enforcement and the justice system. In February 2011, the Goldin Institute began its association with RAPP with the Camp Security and Sensitization Project.

Shared Goals of the Project

This project seeks to substantially improve security and bring an end to gender-based violence in the camp where it is piloted in the Place Petion section of Champ de Mars. In addition to the immediate impact of improved security, we hope that it will provide some meaningful work for security providers and highlight the efficacy of partnering with community based groups, especially those led by women. We hope that this project will serve as a model for the Government of Haiti and relevant NGOs that will be able to scale up this important women-led, community-based initiative.

If successful, this project may also serve as a model for similar grassroots partnerships within the Goldin Institute's global network.

Project Outcomes

  • Immediate and sustained reduction in gender-based violence in Champ de Mars
  • Improved sense of security for vulnerable people in Champ de Mars
  • Opportunity for women to design, lead and implement an innovative community based initiative
  • Increased cooperation between women's groups and the network of partners in Haiti
  • Augmented international profile for local partners through sharing the success of the project broadly
  • Opportunity to engage relevant parties in NGOs and the Government to educate them on the need and efficacy of working with grassroots groups, especially women's groups.

Photos from our trip in January 2011

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Goldin Institute Global Associate Getchine with Camp Resident Project Manager

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Some nice graffiti on the wall of our partner organization's offices, BAI.

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Founder Diane Goldin discusses security plans with the women's groups.

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An arts program that gives young girls without any living relatives some money for food. Prior to entering the program, they were "transactional sex workers" so they could eat. Average age of the girls was 12.

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Very typical street shot. Almost every street has collapsed buildings. This road was relatively clear.

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Walking through the Place Petion "neighborhood" within the Champ de Mars encampment, the site of the pilot security program.

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Executive Director Travis Rejman meeting with kids in Place Petion camp.

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At the KOFAVIV field office in Place Petion camp making final security plans with security team representative. This tent is reserved for women's groups meetings.

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Kids listening in to the meeting...

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Meeting at the KOFAVIV women's group headquarters in Port au Prince.

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Meeting with our friend Jocie, coordinator for the project and the leader of the "arts program" for young girls.

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