Haiti: Violence, including sexual violence, against women; state protection and support services (2017-June 2019) [HTI106291.FE]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada

1. Overview

Sources state that violence against women is a [translation] “widespread” problem in Haiti (AFASDA 19 May 2019; Human Rights Watch 17 Jan. 2019).

The French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (Office français de protection des réfugiés et apatrides , OFPRA) noted in January 2017 that there were no specific and reliable statistics on violence against women in Haiti (France 9 Jan. 2017, 5-6). However, in July 2018, the Haitian Childhood Institute (Institut haïtien de l’enfance , IHE), a Haitian NGO (IHE n.d.), and ICF, the organization responsible for the international Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), published the sixth Mortality, Morbidity and Utilization of Services Survey (Enquête Mortalité, Morbidité et Utilisation des Services, EMMUS-VI 2016-2017 ), which provides statistics on gender-based violence, including physical and sexual violence, collected from 15,675 women and 2,125 men between November 2016 and April 2017 (IHE and ICF July 2018, xxi, 423-424). In a memorandum presented to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in February 2019 and sent to the Research Directorate by a Haiti-based project manager from Lawyers Without Borders Canada (Avocats sans frontières Canada , ASFC) [1], this organization, along with Kay Fanm (Maison des femmes , The Women’s House) [see section 4.2, Services Offered by Civil Society] and the Office of Citizen Protection (Office de la protection du citoyen , OPC) in Haiti, a [translation] “national institution that promotes and protects human rights,” in analyzing the data from EMMUSVI report that “statistics show that violence against women continues to increase” (ASFC, et al. May 2019, 8, 21).

1.1 Physical Violence

According to the EMMUS-VI data, 29 percent of Haitian women aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical violence since the age of 15, and 11 percent of them have experienced it in the last 12 months (IHE and ICF July 2018, 389, 391). The same source reports the following rates for women who have been subjected to physical violence since the age of 15:

  • 31 percent live in urban areas and 28 percent in rural areas;
  • 42 percent are separated or in non-cohabiting relationships, 30 percent are in cohabiting relationships and 24 percent are single; and
  • 31 percent have no education and 28 percent have completed at least high school (IHE and ICF July 2018, 391).

In comparing this data with that of previous EMMUS surveys, the authors of the report note that the rate of physical violence went from 23 percent in 2005-2006 to 28 percent in 2012, and then to 29 percent in 2016-2017 (IHE and ICF 2018, 391). In their memorandum to IACHR, ASFC, Kay Fanm and OPC note that this represents an increase of 6 percent (ASFC, et al. May 2019, 21).

The Kay Fanm association reports that between January 2017 and June 2018, it processed 362 cases of violence, 44 percent of which had been committed against young girls and 56 percent against women (Kay Fanm 25 Nov. 2018). For 2018, the same organization states that it processed 192 cases of gender-based violence against 112 people, 44 of whom were minors and 68 of whom were women (Kay Fanm 27 Mar. 2019). The same source also states that the OPC’s service for the protection of women and children recorded four reports of physical violence in 2016-2017 and six in 2017-2018 (Kay Fanm 27 Mar. 2019).

1.2 Sexual Violence

According to Amnesty International, sexual violence is widespread in Haiti (Amnesty International 22 Feb. 2018). Similarly, Doctors Without Borders (Médecins sans frontières , MSF) states that [translation] “sexual and gender-based violence is a major problem in Haiti” (MSF July 2017, 23). According to the EMMUS-VI, [translation] “one in eight women (12%) reported that they have experienced sexual violence at some point in their life; during the last 12 months, this percentage has been 5%” (IHE and ICF July 2018, 389).

Sources state that sexual violence is used as a weapon of war, among other things, by armed gangs (ASFC, et al. May 2019, 14; France 2017, 53) which are rampant in the slums of Port-au-Prince (ASFC, et al. May 2019, 14) and in the [translation] “disadvantaged metropolitan areas” (France 2017, 53).

The EMMUS-VI shows that sexual violence is higher in urban areas (15 percent) than rural areas (11 percent) (IHE and ICF July 2018, 392). According to the same source, it affects women who are separated (21 percent) or in non-cohabiting relationships (18 percent) more than those who are in a relationship (15 percent) or who are single (7 percent) (IHE and ICF July 2018, 392). The rate of violence decreases with an increased level of education (15 percent among women with no education compared with 11 percent among those who have completed high school) (IHE and ICF July 2018, 392).

The survey data shows that in 58 percent of cases, the perpetrator of the violence is the victim’s current husband or partner, and in 37 percent of cases, it is the former husband or partner; among victims who are single, in 34 percent of cases it is a boyfriend, in 20 percent of cases it is a friend of the family and in 17 percent of cases it is an unknown individual (IHE and ICF July 2018, 392).

Various organizations that deal with sexual violence cases have reported the following numbers of cases:

  • MSF, which runs a specialized clinic for victims of sexual and gender-based violence in Port-au-Prince, stated in July 2017 that it cared for nearly 1,300 victims at the clinic between May 2015 and March 2017 (MSF July 2017, 5).
  • An article from the Haitian daily Le Nouvelliste reported in June 2018 that MSF has treated 2,300 patients since the clinic opened in 2015 (Le Nouvelliste 25 June 2018).
  • According to the memorandum presented to IACHR, the Haitian Group for the Study of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections (Groupe haïtien d’étude du sarcome de Kaposi et des infections opportunistes , GHESKIO) [see section 4.2, Services Offered by Civil Society] took care of 792 young girls and women who had been victims of sexual violence in 2018 (ASFC, et al. May 2019, 15).
  • Kay Fanm notes that the OPC’s service for the protection of women and children recorded five reports of sexual violence in 2016-2017 and 17 in 2017-2018 (Kay Fanm 27 Mar. 2019).
  • According to Le Nouvelliste , a police inspector responsible for the Protection of Minors Brigade (Brigade de la protection des mineurs , BPM) reported that it processes over 100 cases of adolescent victims of rape a year (Le Nouvelliste 25 June 2018).

MSF states that half of sexual violence victims are minors (Le Nouvelliste 25 June 2018) and that 77 percent of victims treated at the NGO clinic between May 2015 and March 2017 were youths under the age of 25 (MSF July 2017, 7). Kay Fanm , without providing further details, states that [translation] “89% of sexual violence is perpetrated against girls and 11% against women” (Kay Fanm 25 Nov. 2018).

1.3 Domestic Violence

Sources report that domestic or family violence is widespread in Haiti (US 13 Mar. 2019, 19; France 2017, 54). According to a Haiti mission report by the OFPRA in 2017, [translation] “domestic violence is a real societal problem. It is recorded in all social strata and is particularly prevalent in the impoverished areas of Port-au-Prince, as well as in remote rural areas” (France 2017, 54). According to the EMMUS-VI data, domestic violence is more common in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince (42 percent) than in the rest of the country (IHE and ICF July 2018, 395).

According to EMMUS-VI, 34 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 49 in relationships or who are separated reported that they have experienced physical, emotional or sexual violence by their husband or partner, and 22 percent reported that it occurred in the last 12 months (IHE and ICF July 2018, 393). According to the same source, among women who are in relationships or whose relationships are ending, in 45 percent of the cases, the violence was perpetrated by the current husband or partner, and in 27 percent of the cases, it was by the former husband or most recent partner (IHE and ICF July 2018, 391).

Based on confidential surveys, the authors of a report published by the Copenhagen Consensus Center [2] estimate that approximately 273,000 women experience physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of their intimate partner every year, which is equivalent to 9.4 percent of women aged 14 to 49 years old (Hoeffler, et al. 17 Apr. 2017, 6).

According to the EMMUS-VI data, domestic violence decreases with victims’ age (47 percent among those 15 to 19 years old and 30 percent among those 40 to 49 years old) and it is more frequent among women who are separated (44 percent) than among those who are in a cohabiting relationship (33 percent) or non-cohabiting relationship (31 percent) (IHE and ICF July 2018, 394). According to that same source, domestic violence varies irregularly with the level of education but is more common among those women who have completed primary education (38 percent) than those who have completed higher education (24 percent). Domestic violence rates vary irregularly according to the standard of living; the highest rate is among women of the fourth quintile (39 percent) and the lowest is among the highest quintile (30 percent) (IHE and ICF July 2018, 395).

In terms of the population’s attitude towards this violence, the EMMUS-VI data indicates that 17 percent of Haitian women and 11 percent of Haitian men consider it justified, for various reasons, for a man to beat his wife or partner (IHE and ICF July 2018, 365). The OFPRA reports that [translation] “domestic violence is tolerated and considered normal by society” (France 2017, 53). ASFC, Kay Fanm and OPC state that [translation] “violence against women and girls is trivialized” in Haitian society (ASFC, et al. May 2019, 6).

The idea that it is [translation] “justified for a man to beat” his partner, according to EMMUS-VI, is more prevalent among women in rural areas (19 percent) than in urban areas (13 percent), but does not vary among men depending on the place of residence (11 percent); it is more prevalent among people who have no level of education (23 percent among women and 11 percent among men) than among educated people (12 percent among women and 9 percent among men); and it is more prevalent among disadvantaged people (13 percent in the lowest quintile) than among the most affluent (8 percent in the highest quintile) (IHE and ICF July 2018, 365).

2. Legislation

Sources state that Haiti does not have legislation against violence against women (ASFC, et al. May 2019, 37; AFASDA 19 May 2019; OECD 2019, 4). Human Rights Watch emphasizes that Haiti [Human Rights Watch English version] “has no specific legislation against domestic violence, sexual harassment, or other forms of violence targeted at women and girls” (Human Rights Watch 17 Jan. 2019).

Sources note that a criminal code reform to improve protection against sexual violence was proposed in April 2017 (Human Rights Watch 17 Jan. 2019; Freedom House 4 Jan. 2018; Amnesty International 22 Feb. 2018). In the Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) for 2019, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reports that this draft bill on the new criminal code “provides for stricter sanctions in the case of crimes where a partner or spouse is implicated” and “increases penalties in case of acts of violence committed against a woman by someone who is part of her family or with whom she shares intimate relations, even without cohabitation” (OECD 2019, 5). According to the memorandum presented to IACHR, a draft bill setting out a legal framework to prevent and crack down on violence against women and girls and that can serve as reference to develop a specific law was submitted in June 2018, on the initiative of the only female senator, Dieudonne Étienne Luma, and then submitted to the Senate (ASFC, et al. May 2019, 37). The UN stated in March 2019 that the text of the draft law on violence against women, which was endorsed by the Ministry for the Status of Women and Women’s Rights (ministère de la Condition féminine et des droits des femmes , MCFDF) and by Dieudonné Luma Étienne, [UN English version] “was circulated to 26 civil society organizations and women’s groups to ensure an inclusive approach and broad participation” (UN 1 Mar. 2019, para. 17). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

2.1 Legislation Against Rape

Sources report that rape has only been criminalized in Haiti since 2005 (AFASDA 19 May 2019; Human Rights Watch 17 Jan. 2019; MSF July 2017, 19). According to the Decree of 11 August 2005 Amending the Rules on Sexual Assault and Eliminating Discrimination Against Women in that Regard (Décret modifiant le régime des agressions sexuelles et éliminant en la matière les discriminations contre la femme ), rape is considered a crime and is punishable by 10 years of hard labour, or 15 years if the victim is under 15 years old, and hard labour for life if the attacker was assisted by one or more individuals, if the attack resulted in death or if [translation] “the perpetrators have ranking authority over the person against whom they committed the attack” (Haiti 2005, Art. 2-4). However, sources state that rape is not defined in the legislation (OECD 2019, 4-5; France 9 Jan. 2017, 4).

3. Protection
3.1 Ability to Seek Help

According to the EMMUS-VI data, 24 percent of women who have experienced physical or sexual violence reported that they sought help; among them, most sought help from those close to them, and [translation] “only” 11 percent went to the police (IHE and ICF July 2018, 396-397). Similarly, sources state that cases of sexual [or domestic (US 13 Mar. 2019, 19)] violence are often not reported in Haiti (US 13 Mar. 2019, 19; UN 30 Aug. 2018, para. 29). According to the US Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018, significant familial responsibilities and a lack of financial resources prevent victims from dedicating the time necessary for the legal proceedings (US 13 Mar. 2019, 19). ASFC, Kay Fanm and the OPC also mention the lawyers’ fees, the absence of legal aid for disadvantaged women and the complexity of the procedures to be carried out in court, as well as the dominance of the French language in the justice system (when only 18 percent of the population speaks French) and the loss of victims’ confidence in the system (ASFC, et al. May 2019, 30-31, 44). According to the OFPRA, the stigma of rape victims in society is also a contributing factor (France 2017, 59).

US Country Reports 2018nonetheless states that according to civil society organizations, in 2018, “women were more likely to report cases of sexual and domestic violence than in the past” (US 13 Mar. 2019, 19). The OFPRA further highlights the following in a 2017 report:

[translation]

While no positive change is noted in terms of domestic violence, the representatives of the Haitian Women’s Solidarity association (Solidarite fanm ayisyèn , SOFA) reported a progressive “awareness” and greater mobilization of society regarding the problem of rape, citing various recent facts involving young girls, which scandalized the population. (France 2017, 54)

3.2 Police Effectiveness

In correspondence with the Research Directorate, the Executive Director of the Sun Women’s Association of Haiti (Asosyasyon Fanm Soley Dayiti , AFASDA) [3] stated that women victims of gender-based violence can contact the police to file a complaint (AFASDA 19 May 2019). However, the memorandum presented to IACHR lists victims’ obstacles to filing complaints, in particular, the lack of means and education in order to be understood by police, as well as the lack of sensitivity of police (of whom 91 percent were male in 2017 [4]) towards the victims’ situation (ASFC, et al. May 2019, 26-27). The same source also states that [translation] “the steps for referring cases to the police and justice services are difficult and laborious” because no specific processes are in place to receive victims of gender-based violence and because most police officers are not trained in this regard (ASFC, et al. May 2019, 30). The OFPRA also notes that Haitian police services are ill-equipped to handle reports of rape (France 9 Jan. 2017, 13).

However, the OFPRA reports that two bodies were created within the Haitian National Police (Police nationale haïtienne , PNH) to handle gender-based issues — the National Bureau for the Coordination of Women’s Affairs (Commission nationale des affaires féminines , CNAF) and the Team to Combat Sexual Violence (Unité de lutte contre le crime sexuel , ULCS) — but adds that their actions are limited by their lack of coordination (France 2017, 60). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response. The UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (Mission des Nations Unies pour l’appui à la justice en Haïti , MINUJUSTH) states that 1,400 police officers were trained on investigating sexual violence (UN 3 May 2019). The memorandum presented to IACHR points out that police stations formed [translation] “teams to deal with gender-based violence,” but because of their lack of means, they “have been unable to improve how they receive victims of violence and properly handle reports” (ASFC, et al. May 2019, 38).

MINUJUSTH nevertheless reports an increase in the number of investigations into cases of violence against women: for 2017, a total of 181 cases were investigated; between January and August 2018 alone, 149 cases had already been investigated (UN 30 Aug. 2018, para. 29). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

MSF, which reports that between May 2015 and March 2017, 47 percent of minor patients were sent to its clinic by the BPM of the PNH, states that [translation] “this also suggests that some of these young women have confidence in the police, to be able to report there after a sexual assault” (MSF July 2017, 19-21). The same source reports that more than 25 percent of adults were sent to the clinic by the police (MSF July 2017, 19).

3.3 Effectiveness of the Legal System

According to sources, women victims of violence also face a number of obstacles in seeking access to justice in Haiti (US 13 Mar. 2019, 19; ASFC 11 Dec. 2018; France 9 Jan. 2017, 11-13). These obstacles include:

  • corruption of the legal system (ASFC, et al. May 2019, 33; France 9 Jan. 2017, 15);
  • dysfunction in the legal system (ASFC, et al. May 2019, 31);
  • impunity of aggressors (ASFC, et al. May 2019, 25; France 9 Jan. 2017, 14); and
  • victims’ lack of confidence in the legal system (ASFC, et al. May 2019, 5; OECD 2019, 1).

ASFC, Kay Fanm and the OPC also list the following obstacles in their memorandum: gender-based inequalities, religion that encourages the submission of the woman to her husband, fear of reprisals for victims and their family in the absence of the availability of protection, difficulty accessing services that are provided more by civil society than by the state, lack of competence of police and justice services personnel, the fees associated with legal proceedings and the lack of effective legal aid mechanisms, difficulty in accessing the courts (also since [translation] “non-central regions have limited or no coverage”), the use of French as the language of justice in a country where [translation] “80 percent of the population speaks only Creole,” and the tendency of judges to encourage out-of-court agreements rather than investigations (ASFC, et al. May 2019, 25-26, 29-31). The OFPRA also mentions legal fees, the language barrier, the fear of reprisals and gender discrimination (France 9 Jan. 2017, 11-12).

According to MINUJUSTH, improvements have been made to the legal system in dealing with gender-based violence: some 100 judges were [translation] “sensitized” to this cause and 40 took training on questioning techniques for gender-based violence (UN 3 May 2019). According to the Director of Studies at the School of Magistrates (École de la Magistrature ), who is also a judge with the Court of Appeal in Port-au-Prince and who is cited by the same source, the MINUJUSTH’s work has enabled

[translation]

"an awareness among judges in how they receive victims and the handling of cases with greater professionalism, but also judicial conviction in most cases and a change in the population’s mentality resulting in an increase in complaints filed by women in the courts, especially since the quality of how they are received has improved considerably." (UN 3 May 2019)

Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

3.3.1 Victims of Rape

According to sources, a medical certificate is required to prove rape in Haiti (AFASDA 19 May 2019; France 9 Jan. 2017, 15). According to the OFPRA, the police inform the complainant of the need to produce this certificate before the judge and it must be issued within 72 hours of the assault; however, [translation] “generally, the most disadvantaged women go to the hospital in the case of serious complications long after the rape” (France 9 Jan. 2017, 15-16). According to AFASDA's Executive Director, the victim may obtain it [translation] “easily” (AFASDA 19 May 2019) by going to the hospital, filing a report, opening a file and being examined by a doctor (AFASDA 21 May 2019). However, according to the OFPRA, the issuance of the certificate by a hospital is [translation] “complicated” because it must be “countersigned by several doctors” (France 9 Jan. 2017, 16). According to the same source, the medical certificate may be issued at the hospital or by a medical NGO—both have the same [translation] “probative value” in the eyes of justice (France 9 Jan. 2017, 16). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response. The certificate is supposed to be free of charge (AFASDA 21 May 2019; France 9 Jan. 2017, 16), but sometimes a fee is charged (AFASDA 21 May 2019) or, at minimum, the victim must pay for the costs of transportation and care (France 9 Jan. 2017, 16). The OFPRA reports that, without the certificate, the police will record the complaint, but the court will classify the case [translation] “no action taken” (France 9 Jan. 2017, 15-16). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

According to the OFPRA, judges often encourage victims of rape and gender-based violence to choose mediation over an investigation (France 9 Jan. 2017, 13). US Country Reports 2018states that in rural areas, criminal cases of sexual violence were settled out of court and that prosecutors often encouraged such settlements (US 13 Mar. 2019, 20).

Furthermore, the OFPRA reports that there are few convictions for rape in Haiti (France 9 Jan. 2017, 14). According to the National Human Rights Defense Network (Réseau national de défense des droits humains , RNDDH) [5], as cited in an article on the Loop Haïti information website, [translation] “in rape cases numbering around 425 a year (of which 90 to 100 are perpetrated on minors), less than 10 percent are handled by the courts” (Loop Haïti 2 Oct. 2017). US Country Reports 2018also notes that judges often release suspects arrested for family violence or for rape and cites as an example the release in February 2018 of 16 individuals charged with rape (US 13 Mar. 2019, 19).

The OFPRA states that, according to representatives of the Conscious Women Fighting for the Development of Haiti (Femmes combattantes avisées pour le développement d’Haïti , FEMCADH) association, a grassroots community organization, [translation] “legal convictions are recorded for rape cases, but they involve lengthy proceedings and victims who have received association, financial or political support and sometimes significant media coverage” (France 2017, 58, 62). The Nouvelliste article reports the following:

[translation]

[T]here has been some progress in caring for victims. Since [2010], units to deal with rape have been created; exemplary verdicts against rape offenders have been handed down; victims are better informed of their rights. Signs show some progress in the fight against rape even though, in some regions of the country, the violation of victims’ rights is systemic because of many factors, including corruption within the legal system, failure or absence of state institutions and victims’ lack of awareness of their rights. (Le Nouvelliste 25 June 2018)

4. Support Services

In its 2017 mission report, the OFPRA cites the conclusions of a lawyer from the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), a Haitian human rights organization based in the US (IJDH n.d.), and states that [translation] “in general, if a female victim does not know the support networks and does not have appropriate contacts in her community, it is very difficult for her to guard against and protect herself from sexual violence” (France 2017, 57).

US Country Reports 2018states that “[v]ictims of rape and other forms of sexual violence faced major obstacles in seeking … [access to] protective services, such as women’s shelters” (US 13 Mar. 2019, 19). The OFPRA nevertheless reports that [translation] “there are many associations scattered throughout the country working in the area of violence against women” and that they “in most cases offer social and legal support to women victims of violence” (France 2017, 56) [see section 4.2, Services Offered by Civil Society]. According to the same source, they include institutional bodies, international organizations and NGOs, Haitian human rights associations, feminist organizations and grassroots community organizations (France 2017, 56-58).

4.1 Services Offered by the State

Sources note that the mission of MCFDF is to prevent and punish violence against women in Haiti (France 2017, 55) or to protect Haitian women from violence, among other acts (Haiti 29 Mar. 2017). In this respect, the OFPRA states the following:

[translation]

While this ministry is threatened to be shut down with each change in government and has extremely limited room to maneuver with less than 1% of the total state budget, it has contributed to some improvements in terms of the legal recognition of violence against women. (France 2017, 55)

ASFC, Kay Fanm and OPC report that a 2017-2027 national action plan to fight violence against women, which aims to prevent and respond to violence committed against women and girls, was adopted in January 2017; however, [translation] “few initiatives were taken to apply it” (ASFC, et al. May 2019, 37-38). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Without providing further details, AFASDA states that 60 percent of victims called the public help services (AFASDA 19 May 2019). It also states that public psychological, legal and medical support services are offered but that they [translation] “are inadequate” and that private organizations are better but lack funds to be able to offer “quality service” (AFASDA 19 May 2019).

The OFPRA mentions institutional bodies such as the OPC and the Institute of Social Welfare and Research (Institut du bien-être social et de la recherche , IBESR) as some of the associations that work to assist women victims of violence and propose social and legal support (France 2017, 56). According to the same source, since the associations are less present in the provinces, victims tend to resort to institutional bodies such as the OPC or justices of the peace (France 2017, 57). According to the description in the memorandum presented to IACHR, OPC provides women with psychological and legal support, as well as help obtaining their medical certificate (ASFC, et al. May 2019, 8).

In a report published in July 2017, MSF states that victims of violence, including sexual violence and with respect to young girls in particular, [translation] “regardless of need, social and child protection services are often limited due to a lack of longterm funding and adequate referral mechanisms to ensure the overall care of victims” (MSF July 2017, 21). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

4.2 Services Offered by Civil Society

AFASDA states that a woman who is a victim of violence [translation] “may be looked after by a women’s organization,” which will provide her with services such as lodging and legal assistance (AFASDA 19 May 2019). The same source states that [translation] “some services are available in the cities, but not in remote areas” (AFASDA 19 May 2019).

The OFPRA identifies two categories among the civil society associations that work to fight violence against women: the feminist organizations that provide social and legal support and advocate for women’s rights with Haitian institutions, and grassroots community organizations that lack means and education but that work in the field and guide women victims of violence towards NGOs and international organizations (France 2017, 57-58). According to the OFPRA, these grassroots community associations provide important moral support to victims, but their effectiveness is limited by the absence of sustainable structures (France 2017, 57).

Civil society organizations that offer services to women victims of violence include the following:

  • Haitian Women’s Solidarity (Solidarité des femmes haïtiennes ,Solidarite Fanm Ayisyèn , SOFA) is an NGO that advocates for women’s rights; it has 10,000 members and offers medical, legal-judicial and psychological assistance to women and girls who are victims of violence in its 22 Douvanjou reception centres located throughout 7 departments (SOFA n.d.);
  • Kay Fanm (La Maison des femmes , The Women’s House) is a [translation] “Haitian civil society association that offers holistic care to women victims of gender-based violence” such as medical, psychological and legal assistance (ASFC, et al. May 2019, 8);
  • GHESKIO centres, whose primary mission is to fight HIV/AIDS, provide free medical support to 260,000 patients per year, some of whom come from disadvantaged populations, through a network of 27 clinics spread across Haiti (GHESKIO n.d.a). For women victims of sexual and family violence, it provides an emergency hotline, a microcredit program, training and a clinic where they can receive medical care and psychological support (GHESKIO n.d.b);
  • The MSF Pran Men’m [[translation] “Take my hand” in Creole (MSF July 2017, 3)] specialized clinic, located in Port-au-Prince, provides medical care and psychological support to victims of sexual or gender-based violence; in 2017, it treated 750 patients (MSF 2017).

The OFPRA provides a list of associations working for women’s rights in Haiti; it includes a brief description of the area of intervention and location of each association (France 9 Jan. 2017, 9-11). A copy of this list is attached to this Response.

MSF states the following in its July 2017 report:

[translation]

The end of the emergency period and subsequent reconstruction [after the 2010 earthquake] resulted in the departure of most international NGOs, leaving local organizations with little access to international funds to continue providing services. There are many public and civil society actors involved in the response [to gender-based sexual violence], but for many of them, their resources are too limited to provide ongoing services. (MSF July 2017, 19)

US Country Reports 2018also states that “[a]ccording to some civil society organizations, many local non-profit organizations that provided shelter, medical and psychological services, and legal assistance to victims [of sexual and family violence] had to reduce services due to a lack of funding” (US 13 Mar. 2019, 19).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Notes

[1] Lawyers Without Borders Canada (Avocats sans frontières Canada , ASFC) is an NGO that defends human rights by organizing international cooperation projects to share its expertise and [ASFC English version] “make law an instrument for change and development” (ASFC n.d.a). The Access to Justice and Fight Against Impunity in Haiti (Accès à la justice et lutte contre l’impunité en Haïti , AJULIH) project aims to strengthen protection of the rights of vulnerable people, including women, minors and prisoners, by improving access to justice, the fight against impunity and citizen participation (ASFC n.d.b).

[2] The Copenhagen Consensus Center is a think tank that researches solutions for the world’s biggest problems; its “Haïti Priorise ” project aims to identify “smart priorities” for the country in order to find the most effective and efficient solutions to its problems (Copenhagen Consensus Center n.d.). The report was prepared by Anke Hoeffler from the University of Oxford’s Department of Economics and research officer at the Centre for the Study of African Economies, Jean Guy Honoré from the University of Washington’s Department of Global Health, and Anastasia Gage from Tulane University’s Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences (Hoeffler, et al. 17 Apr. 2017).

[3] The Sun Women’s Association of Haiti (Asosyasyon Fanm Soley Dayiti , AFASDA) works with Haitian women [translation] “in support of their integral development, respect for their rights and their effective participation in order to develop a just, united and inclusive Haitian society” and offers assistance to women victims of violence (AFASDA 19 May 2019).

[4] The UN reports that the Haitian police force had 1,379 women out of a total 15,042 officers as of 31 August 2018 (UN 30 Aug. 2018, para. 27).

[5] The National Human Rights Defense Network (Réseau national de défense des droits humains , RNDDH) is a Haitian NGO that carries out systematic and routine visits to key institutions in Haiti to monitor the respect of human rights (RNDDH n.d.).

References

Amnesty International. 22 February 2018. “Haïti .” Amnesty International - Rapport 2017/2018: la situation des droits humains dans le monde . [Accessed 16 May 2019]

Association des femmes soleil d’Haïti (Asosyasyon Fanm Soley Dayiti , AFASDA). 21 May 2019. Correspondence sent to the Research Directorate from the Executive Director.

Association des femmes soleil d’Haïti (Asosyasyon Fanm Soley Dayiti , AFASDA). 19 May 2019. Correspondence sent to the Research Directorate from the Executive Director.

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Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources:Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, University of California Hastings; Groupe haïtien d’étude du sarcome de Kaposi et des infections opportunistes (GHESKIO); Kay Fanm ; Komisyon Fanm Viktim pou Viktim (KOFAVIV); Professor of social work who researches violence against women in Haiti; Solidarite Fanm Ayisyèn .

Internet sites, including:ecoi.net; Factiva; Haiti – Primature, Secrétariat général du Conseil des ministres ; Reuters; Rezo Nodwès ; UK – Home Office; UN – Refworld, UNAIDS, UNDP, UN Women; World Organization Against Torture.

Attachment

France. 9 January 2017. Office français de protection des réfugiés et apatrides (OFPRA). “4.2. De nombreuses associations de femmes .” Les Violences faites aux femmes . [Accessed 6 June 2019]