Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Senators Call for Immediate and Urgent Action to Protect the Women of Haiti

12 U.S. Senators have authored a powerful letter calling on the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development to “make the safety and wellbeing of women and girls a high priority throughout assistance efforts in Port-au-Prince and throughout the country.” The Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, Partners in Health, Digital Democracy, and the New Media Advocacy Project commend the leadership of the senators in taking up the issue of protection against sexual and gender-based violence in Haiti.  This coalition of legal advocates, technologists, filmmakers and healthcare providers produced a short film on the issue of sexual and gender-based violence last month and are distributing the video to raise awareness of the continued insecurity and attacks faced by Haitian women even five months after the January earthquake. The coalition of groups is working to ensure that the U.S. government continues to be a leading force in pushing for the security and inclusion of Haitian women in recovery processes, especially poor women and those still occupying some 1400 camps in and around Port Au Prince.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Con­tact:

Abby Gold­berg  | Prin­ci­pal, Latin America/Caribbean and Gen­der | Dig­i­tal Democ­racy | 415.999.0350 |agoldberg@digital-democracy.org

Blaine Bookey, Esq. | Attor­ney, Bureau des Avo­cats Inter­na­tionauxInsti­tute for Jus­tice & Democ­racy in Haiti415.515.8956 | blaine@ijdh.org

BI-PARTISAN LETTER SIGNED BY TWELVE U.S. SENATORS CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE AND URGENT ACTION TOPROTECT THE WOMEN OF HAITI

May 27, 2010—This week, as the U.S. Sen­ate votes on a close to $60 bil­lion USD sup­ple­men­tal aid bill in Wash­ing­ton, Dig­i­tal Democ­racy (DD), the Insti­tute for Jus­tice & Democ­racy in Haiti (IJDH), the New Media Advo­cacy Project (N-Map), and Part­ners In Health (PIH) applaud the lead­er­ship of twelve U.S. Sen­a­tors in tak­ing up the issue of pro­tec­tion against sex­ual and gender-based vio­lence in Haiti. This coali­tion of legal advo­cates, tech­nol­o­gists, film­mak­ers and health­care providers pro­duced a short film on the issue of sex­ual and gender-based vio­lence last month and are dis­trib­ut­ing the video to raise aware­ness of the con­tin­ued inse­cu­rity and attacks faced by Hait­ian women even five months after the Jan­u­ary earth­quake. The coali­tion of groups is work­ing to ensure that the U.S. gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to be a lead­ing force in push­ing for the secu­rity and inclu­sion of Hait­ian women in recov­ery processes, espe­cially poor women and those still occu­py­ing some 1400 camps in and around Port Au Prince.

The short film was orig­i­nally devel­oped to raise aware­ness about the ongo­ing plight of women in camps and to ensure that the more than $10 bil­lion USD in aid pledged by 130 coun­tries, the World Bank, IMF, andIADB at the UN March 31st donor meet­ings adhere to inter­na­tional stan­dards regard­ing pro­tec­tion and inclu­sion. UN Secu­rity Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tion 1325, passed unan­i­mously in 2000, cod­i­fies women’s right to par­tic­i­pa­tion in decision-making and relief efforts at all lev­els and rec­og­nizes the dis­pro­por­tion­ate impact of cri­sis on women as the pri­mary care­tak­ers in soci­ety. As the Sen­ate votes on this week’s sup­ple­men­tal aid pack­age, it is posi­tioned to take global lead­er­ship on respond­ing to the grow­ing con­cern over the secu­rity of Hait­ian women and girls.

Dig­i­tal Democ­racy reached out to staffers in Sen­a­tor Laut­en­berg of NJ’s staff about the need for increased atten­tion by Sen­a­tors to ensure the safety of Hait­ian women and girls. Weeks later, twelve U.S. Sen­a­tors led by Sen­a­tors Johanns and Laut­en­berg authored a pow­er­ful let­ter call­ing on the Admin­is­tra­tor of the U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tional Devel­op­ment to “make the safety and well­be­ing of women and girls a high pri­or­ity through­out assis­tance efforts in Port-au-Prince and through­out the coun­try.”
While rec­og­niz­ing the inher­ent chal­lenges of the relief efforts, the Sen­a­tors stressed the painful his­tory of gender-based vio­lence in Haiti, the increased vul­ner­a­bil­ity since the earth­quake, and the need for spe­cific fund­ing for gender-based vio­lence pro­grams and ser­vices, includ­ing legal, phys­i­cal and men­tal health pro­grams, enhanced secu­rity, train­ings on sex­ual exploita­tion, and coor­di­nated efforts between inter­na­tional and local organizations.

“This bi-partisan let­ter rep­re­sents a major step for­ward in the fight to pro­tect women in Haiti from sex­ual abuse and to ensure that women play a cen­tral role in rebuild­ing efforts,” Abby Gold­berg, Prin­ci­pal for Latin America/Caribbean & Gen­der at Dig­i­tal Democ­racy said. “We applaud the recent atten­tion of U.S. Sen­a­tors to the issue and urge Admin­is­tra­tor Shah to take imme­di­ate steps to imple­ment their recommendations.”

The let­ter was sent to US AID Admin­is­tra­tor Rajiv Shah on May 12, 2010 and signed by U.S. Sen­a­tors Mike Johanns, Frank Laut­en­berg, Sam Brown­back, Tim John­son, Richard Durbin, Olympia Snowe, Dianne Fein­stein, Charles Schumer, George Voinovich, Ben­jamin Cardin, Robert Casey, Jr., and Kirsten Gillibrand.

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