HAITI: Ending Sexual Violence in Haiti Requires Women's Participation

Thursday, July 1, 2010
Lisa Davis, myMADRE
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence
Reconstruction and Peacebuilding

On June 30th the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) held a special policy dialogue on “The role of women in countries in special situations.” MADRE representatives attended this dialogue and talked with State members as well as experts on the critical issues, including sexual violence women in Haiti face and the legal obligation to have their voices included in decision-making processes.

Epidemic of Rapes Against Women and Girls in Haiti's IDP Camps

In the five months following the January 2010 earthquake, one grassroots women's group tracked 242 rapes in just 25 of the hundreds of IDP camps in Port-au-Prince. The Haitian government has been able to begin prosecutions of only a fraction of these cases. At least half of the victims are Haitian girls under the age of eighteen and medical services are overwhelmed and unable to meet women's healthcare needs stemming from the assaults--many women suffer from depression and are at risk for suicide.

Why Haitian Women's Participation is Critical

There is a myriad of international resolutions and statements that call for women's inclusion in decision-making processes. Among them, UN Security Council Resolutions 1325, 1888, and 1889 obligate member states to elevate women's role in all stages of peace processes. Haitian women play a critical role in holding communities together through Haiti's conflicts and at the same time have suffered disproportionately. It is their fundamental right to have a voice in the decision-making processes that ultimately affect their lives. Such a human rights-based approach is mandated by international law and crucial to rebuilding Haiti on a more sustainable, equitable and disaster-resilient foundation.