International Advocacy to Protect Women & Girls in Haiti

On International Women’s Day, March 8, 2023, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights held a public hearing on the widespread sexual violence directed against women and girls in Haiti in response to  joint request by many advocacy groups working in Haiti including longtime Channel partners, Bureau des Avocats Internationaux/Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (BAI/IJDH).

In light of the ongoing human rights and security challenges in Haiti,  BAI/IJDH, longtime Channel grantee partners who work together transnationally, have shifted their work to emphasize international advocacy, both because it allows them to be less constrained by the security situation in Haiti and because it provides an opportunity to address the international community’s contribution to the multiple crises that continue to generate challenges to working in Haiti. 

On Oct. 7, 2022, BAI/IJDH, Komisyon Fanm Viktim pou Viktim (KOFAVIV), MADRE, the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS), and the CUNY Law School Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic filed a report with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) regarding the vulnerability of Haitian women and girls displaced by the gang violence in Haiti to sexual assault. The report was filed as a follow-up to an injunction the groups had obtained from the Commission in 2010 requiring the Haitian government to increase protections for women at risk of violence in the post-earthquake internally displaced persons camps.  

One topic in the Oct. 7 report, which relied extensively on the BAI’s interviews with displaced women and girls in the area of Martissant, Haiti, called attention to was the fact that tens of thousands of women and girls displaced by gang violence face risks similar to those faced by displaced women and girls in 2010 after the massive earthquake which caused devastation to the country.

On Oct. 31, 2022, BAI/IJDH led and filed submission to the UN Working Group on Discrimination Against Women and Girls, joined by the Disaster Law Project, Haitian Women’s Collective, and Nègès Mawon in response to a call for inputs for the UN Working Group’s forthcoming report on “Human Security of Women and Girls in the Context of Poverty and Inequality.”  

IJDH also participated in an in-person Expert Consultation with the UN Working Group’s Vice-Chair, which gave them the opportunity to provide their perspective on the broader framing of the UN Working Group’s report, especially the articulation of responsibilities of non-state actors and powerful countries, such as the U.S., with respect to women’s vulnerability to poverty in poor countries. The UN Working Group continues to consult with Latin American organizations about the report and BAIIJDH/ are working with grassroots groups and translators to ensure that Haitian voices are reflected in those consultations. 

On November 25, 2022, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the kick-off of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) against women and girls, IJDH called for urgent, sustained, and well-funded action to protect Haiti’s women and girls from violence and to support their leadership and equal enjoyment of human rights.