June 12, 2015
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
Pre-sessional Working Group for the 63rd Session
Groups in Focus Section
Human Rights Treaties Division
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
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Dear Honorable Members of the Committee,
This letter is intended to update the Committee on issues since Haiti presented its 2006-2008 report at the Committee’s forty-third session in Geneva on January 27, 2009. We thank you again for the opportunity to brief the commission members on these important women’s rights issues. We have limited the present submission to include information and question on our most pressing concerns under several of the articles, related to access to justice, incidences of sexual violence, gender discrimination, and women’s political participation.
CEDAW Violations by Article
Article 2 (Policy Measures), Article 3 (Guarantee of Basic Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) and Article 5 (Sex Role Stereotyping and Prejudice)
Societal Discrimination Against Women: Like many countries, Haiti has a long history of patriarchy and discrimination against women in the home, in government, at work, and in the courts. Haitian society retains a strong patriarchal structure handed down from the slave era and reinforced by conservative Christian and rural traditions. Gender discrimination in Haiti has systematically denied women the power to prevent and address injustice against them.
Culturally, boys are considered more valuable than girls in poor areas in Haiti. Boys are more likely to be sent to school, while girls help with domestic duties in the house. According to grassroots women’s activist Marie Sonya Dély, child abuse and spousal abuse are common in Haiti, “especially if mom doesn’t have enough money to feed everyone.”1 Girls see the limited professional opportunities available to women, such as street vending, nursing, and working as secretaries for male bosses, so they grow up hoping to meet a man who will take care of them.
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