KOFAVIV – Commission of Women Victims for Victims
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN�S DAY DECLARATION
MARCH 8, 2008
Founded in 2004, The Commission of Women Victims for Victims (KOFAVIV) is a group of Haitian women survivors of political rape working help new women victims from poor neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince.� We provide medical care and support for all women victims without discrimination.
Since March 8, 2005, KOFAVIV has met with more than 600 women victims of rape.� Many of these victims have been left to raise their children alone while other victims� houses have been burned to the ground, all of their belongings destroyed and looted as they and their children were left homeless.
KOFAVIV condemns this and all violence against women and demands justice for all victims, regardless of their position in society.� KOFAVIV calls for an end to injustice for women living in neighborhoods which have been devastated by poverty and violence such as Bel Air, LaSaline, Grande Ravine, Martissant, Carrefour, Carrefour-Feuilles, Fort National, Sarthe, Drouillard, Croix-des-Missions, Croix-des-Bouquets, Fontamara, as well as all other areas of the country.
KOFAVIV asks the new government to create the conditions that will allow these women victims to obtain justice.� At the same time, we ask the government to address the critical situation of women living in poor neighborhoods and to create a climate of respect for the rights of women in these communities.
Stop Injustice against Women
For the Committee: Marie Eramithe Delva, Malya Villard, Elisena Nicolas
HAITI: “GEN ESPWA” – THERE IS HOPE
Source: United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), 14 Dec 2005
On the far corner of St Ann’s Square, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, sits the modest office of Komisyon Fanm Viktim pou Viktim (KOFAVIV) (Commission of Women Victims for Victims). On its front door is a sign that says simply ‘Gen Espwa’ (there is hope).� And hope there is for so many of the women who have passed through that door since KOFAVIV was set up in January 2005 by Eramithe Delva and Malya Villard.
Both women were victims of politically sanctioned rape during the 1991-94 period of political instability in Haiti. They met through the Committee of Women to Fight for Justice in 1993, their stories of being brutally abused frighteningly similar.� Both had been political activists living in the Martissant neighbourhood in Port-au-Prince, and both had been violently raped and assaulted, and seen their husbands beaten to death because of their activism.
Motivated not only by their own experiences, but also by the alarming increase in rapes seemingly related directly to the current political instability in the country, the women decided to set up an organization to address the medical and psychological needs of rape victims.
KOFAVIV opened its medical centre in March 2005, partnering with the Organisation Dontraide pour la Promotion Sociale (ODPPS) to provide medical assistance to victims. KOFAVIV staff, called Community Human Rights Workers (CHRWs), reach out to women in many distressed communities to encourage them to seek medical help and counselling to get through their trauma. In just one year, through 25 active community workers, KOFAVIV has managed to treat more than 350 women.
Solange, a CHRW in Martissant, firmly believes that many women who are rape victims are benefiting from the program. “When I was raped in 1992, I did not have access to something like this. I am proud to be able to support other victims in this way.”
In spite of all they have achieved, the women at KOFAVIV know this is only the tip of the iceberg. “We often reflect on our objectives, and we know there is so much more to be done,” says Delva, “and so we value our partnership with UNIFEM, who we believe can make our voices heard around the world in areas that we cannot.”
Villard explained how anyone who comes to the commission can also pick up literature and information on women’s rights, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and Security Council resolution 1325 on women and conflict. These are then discussed in support groups so women can become familiar with their rights and the recourse available to them.
When asked why they insist on calling themselves victims, Delva and Villard say that it is because they have yet to see full justice. “We are not afraid to say we are victims, although we are also survivors and activists. Because victims do not have justice, and until we receive justice, we will continue to be victims.”
KOFAVIV received a grant in 2005 from the Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women for the project titled “Responding to the HIV/AIDS Threat to Rape Victims in Poor Communities.”