Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

“Inspirational Women” — an appeal from Meena Jagannath

Dear Friend,

Looking back at this year, I am so impressed with all the great things the Rape Accountability and Prevention Project (RAPP)  was able to accomplish.This summer, RAPP won justice in the first four cases it took to trial. BAI lawyers and  grassroots women’s groups have made serious progress toward changing unjust structures in the Haitian judicial system. That work moves us concretely, if gradually, closer to a day when Haitian women can participate more fully in society as workers, leaders, students, mothers and partners without risking violence. I am grateful to my colleagues, women’s activists and our clients for the amazing energy, courage and effort they have put into raising awareness of and attracting attention to the serious problem of sexual violence in Haiti.

RAPP’s holistic approach is making sustainable change in Haiti, obtaining justice for gender-based violence survivors and helping them through skills and empowerment workshops. “BAI Women’s Saturdays” (Samdi Fanm BAI Yo in Kreyol) – was fully launched this year. Just one year ago, it started as a monthly meeting with our survivor-clients, but soon clients and members of the community began to offer to teach BAI clients (and family members) craftmaking and other skills that have a threefold benefit:  they reinforce relationships with the BAI and other women’s groups fighting for justice, they help our collaborators gain self-esteem and kinship with one another, and they teach skills, like sewing, that can potentially have economic benefits.

I have been inspired in particular by an elderly colleague, Ms. D, who at first volunteered to travel an hour to the office each week to teach our clients how to sew and make clothes.  She is a rigorous, firm and good teacher who has imparted invaluable skills to our survivor-clients. Thanks to your support we have been able to come up with the resources to better integrate her into the BAI, which has been a true blessing for our grassroots women’s group partners and our survivor-clients.

Your donation will go a long way towards supporting the lawyers at BAI in their efforts to improve access to justice for marginalized communities in Haiti, and enabling strong women like Ms. D to sustain and expand valuable programs like BAI Women’s Saturdays.

Meena Jagannath
Former Coordinator, Rape Accountability and Prevention Project
Bureau des Avocats Internationaux

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Institute for Justice & Democracy In Haiti
15 Newbury St
Boston, MA

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