The Women & Girls of Haiti
Each year V-Day increases awareness by focusing on a specific group of women in the world who are resisting violence with courage and vision. In 2012, V-Day’s Spotlight Campaign will be on the Women and Girls of Haiti. In late March 2011, Eve and members of our team traveled to Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien, Haiti, to visit the V-Day safe house and legal justice centers. They met with many of the local women activists, beneficiaries, and survivors who are creating and maintaining the campaign on the ground, guided throughout their trip by V-Day activist Elvire Eugene.
The V-Day safe houses and legal justices centers, which are supported by the work of thousands of V-Day activists all over the world through the 2011 V-Day Spotlight Campaign on the Women and Girls of Haiti (http://www.vday.org/spotlight2011), are sheltering women and their children who have survived sexual violence, and providing them with support services and legal assistance, working towards ending the cycle of impunity with which the rapes are occurring. The 2011 Spotlight Campaign (to date) raised $211,894.71 and we hope that this year’s continuation of support will match or increase that amount!
In 2012, V-Day’s Spotlight Campaign will again focus on the Women and Girls of Haiti. The Spotlight will highlight the high levels of violence against women and girls in Haiti, and will focus on the increased rates of sexual violence since the devastating earthquake that took place in January 2010. All funds raised through the Spotlight Campaign will be used to support a revolutionary national program in Haiti lead by a coalition of women activists – including longtime V-Day activist Elvire Eugene – that is addressing sexual violence through art, advocacy, safe shelter, and legal services.
According to the Haitian government, 230,000 people died as a result of the earthquake, 300,000 were injured and over 1,000,000 were left homeless. Basic amenities like medical care, food, water, and electricity were out of reach for countless Haitians. Days after the quake, Michele Lebrun Pavana, speaking for Marjory Michel, Minister of Feminine Condition, reported to V-Day that women were at heightened risk for sexual assault.
As there are now 1,300 refugee camps across Haiti, we know that thousands of women and girls are being forced to live in high-risk situations. While women have spoken of widespread rape in the camps and the fear of being attacked, hard data on the number of rapes that have occurred is hard to come by. Few cases of rape are being prosecuted. As human rights lawyer Jane Flemming reported from the ground, survivors of rape are afraid to report to police; for the few who do their rapists are prosecuted at a lower than 2% rate. Haitian women lawyers are working to change this reality so that more women use legal avenues available to them and justice is reached. V-Day’s campaign is addressing this issue.
Through the 2012 V-Day Spotlight Campaign on the Women and Girls of Haiti, thousands of women and men throughout the world will be exposed to the issues facing women and girls in the devastated region. The Spotlight Campaign will raise funds to ensure lasting impact on the ground, supporting the revolutionary V-Day program which will establish three safe houses – each with an office of legal assistance for survivors of violence – in Cap Haitien, Fort Liberte, and Port de Paix respectively. In addition, the campaign will support four legal assistance offices in Port-au-Prince in the Bois de Bouquet, Delmas, Gressier, and Canape Vert areas, and will provide advocacy support for 19 community based organizations throughout the country doing anti-violence work.