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KOFAVIV’s Oral Testimony in Geneva re: Post-Earthquake Rapes

June 8, 2010

From Worldpulse: Today, Malya Villard-Appolon, a Haitian women’s rights activist and MADRE partner who has lived in the camps for displaced people since the earthquake destroyed her home in January, is testifying before representatives from the Human Rights Council in Geneva.  Malya, a leader of KOFAVIV, MADRE’s sister organization in Haiti, has witnessed the skyrocketing incidence of rape in the camps and the lack of a coordinated or effective response to these persistent threats.

*Oral Intervention of Malya Villard-Apollon*

1. Council Members, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today.
2. My name is Malya Villard-Apollon. I am a leader of KOFAVIV, a grassroots women’s organization that works with victims of sexual violence. I, myself, have been a victim of rape. We work with several partners including MADRE, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti and the law firm Morrison & Foerster.
3. Conditions in the displacement camps, following the January 12 earthquake, have greatly exacerbated women’s vulnerability to rape.
4. I live in a tent in a camp. I have witnessed violence against women and girls. And, I have also witnessed the completely inadequate government response. KOFAVIV has recorded at least 242 cases of rape since the earthquake. But, we have yet to see a case prosecuted.
5. The violence is occurring in the camps because:
1. There is no education around sexuality and women’s rights,
2. Security is inadequate;
3. There is a lack of secure housing;
4. And, aid distribution is ineffective and aid agencies fail to consult grassroots groups, which deepens poverty and fosters violence.
6. I respectfully urge the Council recommend that the International Community work with the Government of Haiti to do the following:
1. Provide human rights education, including gender sensitivity training for men and police, and know your rights trainings for women;
2. Immediately provide security and lighting in the camps;
3. Remind donors that the ‘UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement’ implore governments to consult with Haitian women and ensure their participation in decisions that impact their lives;
4. And, finally, all member States should condition funding on meeting these basic requirements to uphold women’s rights.
7. Voices like mine are often not heard in forums like these, thank you again for your attention.

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