BUREAU DES AVOCATS INTERNATIONAUX (BAI)
3, 2ème rue Lavaud
Invitation: Press Conference at the BAI, 10am, Tuesday August 3
Mario Joseph, Av., Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), 244-7987, firstname.lastname@example.org
Blaine Bookey, Esq. Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, 769-6873, email@example.com
Lisa Davis, Esq., 769-6873, MADRE, firstname.lastname@example.org
Human Rights Groups Release Comprehensive Report on the Crisis of Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls in Post-Earthquake Haiti
August 3, 2010, 10am; Port-au-Prince, Haiti –
More than 6 months after the earthquake in Port-au-Prince, thousands of displaced women and girls live in fear of rape in tent cities that lack lighting, privacy, and security. Last week, the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, MADRE, and other partners released the results of fact-finding missions to Haiti conducted in May and June.
The Report, titled “Our Bodies are Still Trembling: Haitian Women’s Fight Against Rape”, is the first report of its kind to focus exclusively on the crisis of violence against Haitian women and girls in Haiti’s displacement camps since the earthquake. The findings presented in this Report illustrate the epidemic of rape in the camps¾that women are being raped at an alarming rate—every day—in camps throughout Port-au-Prince. Furthermore the report documents the failure of the government of Haiti, the United Nations, and others in the international community to implement an effective response.
Rape survivors living in the camps told interviewers that reporting rape to the police is an exercise in futility. Many women stated that when they approached the police for help, the police said that there was nothing they could do and the survivor should return when she had identified and/or captured their attacker. One survivor reported that the officer she spoke with disclaimed responsibility for trying to apprehend her rapist, telling her that it was the problem of Haiti’s president, René Préval.
For the last week, attorneys with the Institute and MADRE, returned to Haiti to continue advocacy efforts for Haitian women’s right to live free from violence and to gather additional evidence in preparation for filing litigation on behalf of assault victims and presenting the findings of the report to UN and Government officials. The UN announced in the press that it’s addressing the issue with two recent arrests of alleged rapists. However, last week, the UN Police released a suspected rapist, who had been identified by several camp residents, claiming that he had not been “charged.”
When states fail to bring perpetrators to justice, they implicitly condone such violence, giving rise to impunity that facilitates further abuses and normalizes violence against women. Women, especially poor women, have been excluded from full participation and leadership in the relief effort. Having no other options, grassroots women’s groups, such as KOFAVIV, have resorted to taking charge of their own security, including escorting women to the bathrooms and organizing groups of men to take shifts patrolling their areas. While these efforts have proved to effectively deter rape, the capacity of these groups is limited and without further help from the government of Haiti and the international community, the epidemic of rapes will continue.