No More Rapes: End Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Haiti

March 11, 2011

After she moved into a makeshift shelter in Dessalines Square, Champ-de-Mars, Haiti, “Suzie” and her friend were gang raped in front of their shelter.

 “After they left I didn’t do anything….I don’t know where there is a clinic offering medical treatment for victims of violence.” 

Because she was blindfolded, Suzie didn’t go to the police because she didn’t know who the men were that raped her.  She told Amnesty International that the police patrol the streets, but she’s never seen them inside the camp.

In the Haitian camps there are many women and girls like Suzie. It is therefore vitally important that both the international community and the Haitian government take immediate action to treat the issue of violence against women as a priority for the humanitarian and reconstruction effort in Haiti.

Beyond causing catastrophic loss of life, structural and institutional damage, the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti exacerbated pre-existing abuses of economic and social rights , leaving some of the most vulnerable internally displaced populations – women and girls – at high risk for rape and sexual violence. Amnesty International’s most recent report on Haiti address the high prevalence of gender based violence in the camps and the dire need for the rights of women and girls to be at the forefront of any and all humanitarian and reconstruction efforts.

Currently, U.S. policy makers have a critical opportunity to support the women and girls in Haiti’s camps and elsewhere. The prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence in Haiti’s camps demonstrates the importance of President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Request– specifically, the importance of the programs and policies that are supported by the International Affairs Budget.  At little over 1% of the entire U.S. Federal Budget, the various programs funded through the International Affairs Budget help to secure the United States’ diplomatic, security and economic interests abroad—including helping to alleviate the circumstances of extreme poverty that fuel conflict and exacerbate violence committed against women and girls.

It is essential that Congress fully funds the International Affairs budget in order to ensure that the dignity and safety of women and girls in Haiti and throughout the world are fully respected and their rights are fully protected.  

Join us this week, in honor of International Women’s Day and Women’s Week of Action, and take action now to urge Congress to fully fund the International Affairs Budget in order to better protect the rights of women and girls across the globe!