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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Haiti: A Year Later

Hey all,

I decided to do a second post today, because it is the one year anniversary of the Haitian earthquake. While there was immense support of the Haitian people, the devastation caused by that tragedy was so monumental that it will be years before the economy and people fully recover. There are still millions of people living under tents, inadequate access to food for many, and little work for people. These, and others, are all very serious issues and need to be addressed.

However, the issue I want to discuss today is the increase in rapes, violence, and sexual abuse of women in Haiti.This is especially heartbreaking if you think about the situation of these women; they are living in makeshift camps, the majority of most people have lost members of their family, if they had business or a livelihood the quakes destroyed it... These women lost their loved ones, homes, and business all in one swoop and know face the constant threat of violence and being violated. 

"More than 250 cases of rape in several camps were reported in the first 150 days after January’s earthquake" according to the Amnesty International report, Aftershocks: Women speak out against sexual violence in Haiti’s camps. The report goes into more depth than the first link in the story, so if you want the long version download the report. The report also has the stories from some women impacted by this violence in their own words, which can be difficult to read, but I think it is important to

The women's safety and sanctity of their bodies is not a priority of the government and that has to change in order for women to be free from the constant possibility of violence. "“There has been a complete breakdown in Haiti’s already fragile law and order system since the earthquake with women living in insecure overcrowded camps,” said Gerardo Ducos. “There is no security for the women and girls in the camps. They feel abandoned and vulnerable to being attacked. Armed gangs attack at will; safe in the knowledge that there is still little prospect that they will be brought to justice.”"

The report is calling for the new government to work with humanitarian agencies to develop a plan to address the violence women are facing, they also stat that "women in the camps must be fully involved in developing any such plan. Immediate steps include improving security in the camps and to ensure police are able to respond effectively and that those responsible are prosecuted."

From the report, it was made clear that the police do not bother to investigate or prosecute rapists properly, instead of being ignored as cases are currently.

A survivor of the violence and an advocate for change says it better than I can. In an address to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Malya Villard-Apollon, leader of the Commission of Women Victims for Victims (KOFAVIV):
“I am a leader of KOFAVIV, a grass-roots women’s organization that works with victims of sexual violence. I, myself, was a victim of rape in 1992 and again in 2003.
I live in a tent in a camp. I have witnessed violence against women and girls. And, I have also witnessed the completely inadequate government response. KOFAVIV has recorded at least 242 cases of rape since the earthquake. But, we have yet to see a case prosecuted…
Voices like mine are often not heard in forums like these…”

We owe it to Malya and the hundreds, if not thousands, of other victims to support the organizations like Amnesty International who are supporting the the women on the ground.


  1. Has it really been a year already?!

    I cannot believe that, one year later, people are still living in tents. :(

  2. I agree, it has flown by so fast, I can't believe its already a year. I wonder if it has gone by fast for those directly affected by the earthquake or if this year has dragged by as they work towards recovery?
    No way to know, just thinking about it.