Commission of Women Victims for Victims Declaration

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Charles Arthur
Posts: 151
Joined: Tue May 25, 2004 7:35 am

Commission of Women Victims for Victims Declaration

Post by Charles Arthur » Fri Sep 01, 2006 7:16 am

DECLARATION

Commission of Women Victims for Victims (KOFAVIV)

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

September 1, 2006

The Commission of Women Victims for Victims is a group of Haitian survivors of rape from the 1991-94 military coup d'état. We fought unsuccessfully for justice and reparations for years. When, in 2004, we saw that the same women were being raped again, we shifted our work in order to aid these new victims. Because many women who were victimized when we were died from sexually transmitted diseases including AIDS, we provide victims medical care. KOFAVIV works with women victims from poor neighborhoods like LaSaline, Bel Air, Cité Soleil, Grande Ravine, Ti Bwa, Martissant, and Village de Dieu.

We, women victims, many of us from the poorest groups of the population, have decided today to say no to all forms of violence and discrimination to which we have been subjected during the last 200 years.

We are victims of rape. Armed groups have forced their way into our homes, stole everything we owned, raped us and our daughters, burned our houses, and threatened us. Many of us were forced to leave our homes and have been sleeping on the mountainside. We have lost our commercial goods, and we do not have the means to send our children to school. When we open our mouths to speak, we risk being threatened or killed.

We, women who have been subjected to all forms of violence, are standing up to defend our rights.

Haiti has signed more human rights conventions than almost any other state. Yet Haiti remains one of the countries where human rights, particularly women's rights, are most violated. We know that rights do not mean anything when they remain only on paper. For this reason, we ask the government to implement all of these conventions and to give meaning to the international community's condemnation of violence against women.

It must be the job of all branches of the government to respect human rights. Parliament must adopt forceful laws to protect women's rights. The Executive must take strong measures to stand in solidarity with women victims from the last 10 years. The police need to provide security in poor neighborhoods and other areas in order to stop kidnapping and rape. We ask that the state take action in the justice system to end impunity.

We also ask the state to take all necessary measures to aid women who are victims of all types of violations—those whose houses have been burned and those who have been forced to flee and sleep in churches, mountainsides, and porches of homes—so that they have homes and don't have to rely on the support of other community members.

Ending violence and discrimination against women is everyone's responsibility. We ask civil society to wake up and condemn this relentless violence.

Where are the political parties? What do you have to say about the women of Martissant, Grande Ravine, Corridor La Fwa, Ti Bwa who have been abandoned with no support? During elections, you know that women were there until the end. All your leaders are silent. Political groups-- stop using what we have suffered as propaganda without recognizing our existence. When you do this, you re-victimize us.

We ask for justice for all women. But what does justice mean for us? We say that women's rights are human rights. But what do human rights mean for us?

When we reflect on our situation, we are able to say that we are victims of rape because we are deprived of our social and economic rights. We live in the worst houses. We have no economic means. So, we are forced to go out to make a living even that means endangering ourselves. As a result, we are more vulnerable to violence.

We in KOFAVIV received care when we were raped. But don't all women have the right to health care for themselves and their children when they are sick? Shouldn't all women have access to care when they deliver their children? Why can't all women live in better conditions so that they aren't exposed to so many diseases?

We say that protecting women's rights is not only about providing safety from those responsible for these abuses, and that justice is not only about putting them in prison. It is about respecting all of our rights and the rights of everyone because we know that poverty is a reason why many women become victims.

We have a right to education. We ask the state to stop the privatization of schools and to build national schools so that women have access to education. We ask the state to put an effective education program in place so that women can obtain sufficient jobs.

We have the right to work. We ask the state to create jobs for women without discrimination, jobs that will increase women's economic power so that they can achieve economic autonomy. We ask that the state valorize women's work. Women working in the informal sector, especially widows whose husbands died during the political conflict and left them with many children, need to have social support. We ask the state to define an economic policy that will increase production and lower the cost of living. This would allow us to live decently.

When we think about poverty and lack of respect for human rights, we see that the economic crisis has roots in the foreign policies of powerful countries towards smaller countries like our own. Powerful countries need to see that rights that we are demanding will never be respected if their policies in poor countries do not change.

The national and international community must know too that health, education, shelter, and access to higher education are women's rights. Their programs must help women access these rights while making it easier for the state respect to them. They should put in place good programs that will have a real benefit for women. Women must be able to participate in decision-making processes that affect us.

When we heard this week about the judgment against Toto Constant, we felt that a great step forward had been made. We had been waiting for this for a long time. KOFAVIV celebrates the decision taken by an American court against Toto Constant. We congratulate everyone who was fighting to judge this leader of FRAPH. But the fight has just begun and with hope, women will succeed in getting justice and reparations. We will continue the struggle until all criminals have been condemned. This decision gives us a great deal of courage.

All groups that are involved in rape, both those that are perpetrating it and those that are supporting these individuals, must stop violating the rights of women. At the same time, we remind the state that it has the obligation to take all action necessary to prevent all forms of violence against women.

The fight has just begun. Women's rights must be respected.

Charles Arthur
Posts: 151
Joined: Tue May 25, 2004 7:35 am

Rape victims march in Port-au-Prince

Post by Charles Arthur » Fri Sep 01, 2006 7:18 am

For Immediate Release

September 1, 2006

CONTACT: Anne Sosin, Vizyon Dwa Ayisyen, 509-445-2868, asosin@gmail.com
or Eramithe Delva, Commission of Women Victims for Victims, 509-779-9155, kofaviv@gmail.com

Haitian Rape Victims Risk Their Lives to Demand Their Rights

Port-au-Prince, Haiti, September 1, 2006: Despite the threat of violence amidst continuing arson attacks and gun battles in Port-au-Prince's poorest neighborhoods, hundreds of women victims of rape will march through the capital today with faces veiled to raise their voices against ongoing violence and discrimination against women. The march will begin with a rally at 10 am in Place Jérémie.

The march is organized by the Commission of Women Victims for Victims (KOFAVIV), the largest community-based rape crisis group in Haiti. Marchers will take their cry for justice to the Haitian Government by visiting the Ministry of Justice, Ministry for Women, National Palace and Parliament.

A leader and founder of the group, Eramithe Delva explains, “We are veiling our faces because this is how they come to our homes to rape us, beat us, destroy our homes, burn our things. The veil also is a symbol of how we as women are silenced and marginalized in all spheres of public life.” In the wake of a massive exodus from the neighborhood of Grand Ravine, more than sixty new victims have come forward to tell harrowing stories of the escalating violence and their desperate efforts to survive and save their children.

In a declaration released today to correspond with the march, women state: “We demand that all groups responsible, including those that are perpetrating the rapes and those that are encouraging these groups, stop using rape against women. At the same time, we ask the state to take all action necessary to prevent this from happening.” KOFAVIV further calls upon both the Haitian government and the international community to take concerted action to address the conditions at the root of violence. “Protecting women's rights does not only mean providing security in the streets or putting perpetrators in jail when they commit rape. We are asking for everyone's rights to be respected, because we know that poverty is one of the causes of violence.”

KOFAVIV was founded by a group of survivors of rape from the country's 1991-94 military dictatorship to provide emergency medical assistance and peer support to new women victims. Since its formation in late 2004, KOFAVIV has assisted more than 1,000 victims of rape. KOFAVIV believes that these figures represent only a fraction of the total victims, as many women are afraid to report that they have been raped or to seek treatment.

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Michel Nau_

Post by Michel Nau_ » Fri Sep 01, 2006 5:44 pm

Jaf wrote:[quote] Doesn't it strike you as significant that each of these outbreaks of rape happened during a coup d'état period 1991-1994 & 2004-2006?
[/quote] Just like loupgarous during a full moon, those rapists are coming out with their “pin a la main” looking for women.
Jaf, Is rape spraying a sign precursor d'un coup d'etat?
Why giving a political face to an issue that is more likely social?
Despite the fact that, rape is a crime, and not a sexual act, a lot of us think that these guys (Lavalas as well as the former FRAPH members) were competing to see who will satisfy their sexual appetite by scoring more points.
They even go by lubricating and trafficking their penis. They “turbo” tize it by putting steel balls under their penis skin.

This kind of behavior is purely a sign of social degradation, and the government should bring those perpetrators to justice.
I give a round of applause to those women for their courage, and for stepping forward in bringing the consciousness of such an important issue in our society.

Michel

Empress Verite

Haitian Women Rape Victims March For Justice

Post by Empress Verite » Sat Sep 02, 2006 7:22 pm

Sak Pase All?

Thank you so much Charles for the contact info for these women. I look forward to communicating with them about their activism and the wonderful work that they are doing in Ayiti with rape victims. I wish that pictures were available because their representation of rape as veiled women sounds so dramatic and clear. We need a documentary about this movement. I'm also glad that you're a Haitian man (assuming from your name) who cares about this situation to post so much about it too. That's truly wonderful. Rape and sexual abuse in Haiti and in the Diaspora are not topics that are easily discussed among Haitians. In fact, the silence about the issue in contrast to the loud discussions about politics and money (to a lesser extent) engenders a culture of abuse because there is NEVER any time or space for it. My feeling is that the researchers and the activists are correct in assuming that there are probably more victims who are too affraid or ashamed to come forward and discuss their experiences. In fact this may be why we are not hearing about male rape and how little boys and men are often victims too.

The findings of the study that most of the victims were under 18 are in line with what happens in the US for instance. Most rape and sexual abuse victims are under 16. This proves the fact that this is a crime that is ultimately a cowardly act done against the powerless who cannot protect themselves and who are most vulnerable. And in Haitian society, (which is overwhelmingly young about 60%) the youths are the least powerful. They practically have no rights in society and unemployment and poverty are rampant particularly among that group (well we can just imagine...).

My concern is that these victims will not get the help that they need to recover and heal from these traumatic experiences and perhaps even health problems. I agree with the researchers in their suggestions that Haitian centered healing approaches should be implemented and that would mean the support of a Haitian rape crisis center (if they don't already have one) that addresses the needs of all victims regardless of gender from a holistic perspective. I am also concerned that these victims might become further victimized by the experience that they become incapacitated and unable to function in society and perform in daily life. This would of course make them invalids which could lead to deviant behaviour and cause them to be further marginalized in society.

The women from the Vagina Dialogues (for those who watch Democracy Now! are working on this issue of how to help female victims of sexual violence to reclaim their sexuality and to stay out of criminal life. I am not sure if the women of Pawol Chat are doing the same but it would be a great idea.

I also wanted to thank you Michel for alluding to the point that rape occurs in Ayiti under all political administrations. And in fact, it seemed to have been used as a marker of male prowess. This can be traced back to slavery and colonization. Little African slave girls (and probably boys too) were routinely raped at young ages even before puberty <10 (less than 10 years) and Alejo Carpentiere (the French Russian Cuban born writer) wrote about this in The Kingdom of this World. And in Killing the Black Female Body the author a University of Chicago Law Professor (trained at the Ivy League) found that slave women in the US were raped and forced to REPRODUCE during specific times of the year to coincide with the crop cycle. Go figure...these crimes are no so much about physical passion after all but they are seriously tied to the aims of the state. And the position of females and gender dynamics as a whole.

I find it shameful that the Haitian state has not dealt with this more seriously in light of the high rates of HIV/AIDS and other venereal diseases.

Finally, I applaud the courage and strenght of these protestors and the victims who march along. It will help them to heal and to move on and get on with their lives. They are marching to protest the violence and the injustice done against them and their bodies while the state watched on.

mesi anpil pou konvesasyon sa a. I am so happy to know that there are Haitians who do care about this subject matter. We have a long way to go but we can get there if we try.

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