US Funds IOM Aid to Victims of Sexual Violence in Haiti Camps

Report
from International Organization for Migration
Published on 08 Nov 2013

IOM has received US$ 600,000 from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) to provide immediate relief to victims of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) in Haitian displacement camps with a high incidence of SGBV cases.

The funding will allow IOM to provide a comprehensive SGBV response in camps through urgent medical assistance, referrals and relocation support. It will also help to raise awareness of the issue among the local population and reinforce the institutional network of response actors.

Violence against women and sexual assaults are widespread in Haiti and particularly in the camps, where the largest number of SGBV cases occur. Incidents are commonly unreported to the police due to the victims’ lack of access to justice, threats and intimidation by perpetrators, and the underlying climate of social acceptance regarding violence against women.

Displaced female single heads of households are the most vulnerable group. They are frequently forced to resort to ‘transactional sex’ - offering sexual favors in exchange for essential resources.

“Since the beginning of the year, 325 SGBV cases have been reported to the IOM Haiti Protection Unit through different networks, such as community-based organizations, camp management and camp committees. This high incidence of cases shows that the extreme conditions in which displaced people live expose them to increased vulnerability and lack of physical security,” explains Fanette Blanc, IOM Haiti Protection Program Manager.

Through this project, 220 beneficiary households will receive relocation grants to counter the risk of re-victimization and to provide them with decent, secure and dignified accommodation.

IOM will support institutional local partners in providing free medical assistance to referred victims during the first 72 hours following any assault, including time-critical contraceptive and anti-retroviral treatment, as well as free-of-charge psychosocial counseling and legal support.

Each victim will be informed of their rights, including the right to medical assistance, the right to report the incident in cases when the police are not notified, and the right to receive a court hearing.

Extremely vulnerable cases, such as female heads of households with no formal education, will be offered a six-month training on how to start an income-generating activity to improve their economic independence.

As part of the project, IOM will deliver a communication campaign to raise awareness of SGBV and its consequences. This will include a radio soap opera, as radio is the most used media in Haiti both by urban and rural populations and soap operas are extremely popular. There will also be a cartoon strip newspaper targeting low-literacy readers and sensitization sessions in camps.

To strengthen the capacity of SGBV response actors, IOM will carry out continued capacity-building activities and monitoring visits by accompanying the Police Nationale d’Haiti (PNH), as well as judicial, health and psychosocial actors within their respective mandates to respond to incidents of SGBV.

The IOM Haiti Protection team has been implementing counter-SGBV programming in Haiti since 2010, in collaboration with the National Platform on SGBV, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Women’s Rights and partner NGOs.

For more information, please contact Ilaria Lanzoni at IOM Haiti, Tel: +509 3702-5066, Email: ilanzoni@iom.int

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