MADRE’s sister organization in Haiti, KOFAVIV, has been hard at work in their attempts to combat the widespread violence against women in their country. Despite substantial progress, they still face obstacles in their fight for a life free from violence. However, these difficulties do not stop their ambition to ensure that women are granted the full range of human rights.
In a recent interview with KOFAVIV, they shared with us their vision to end violence against women stating, “Within KOFAVIV, we hope to see new, more effective laws to punish rapists and we would like to see commitment from the Haitian government regarding the international human rights conventions, specifically the rights of women and girls.”
KOFAVIV works hard to bring awareness to their communities through organized activities to help engage the population in a commitment to stop violence against women. But, as they inform us, “there is still a lot to do…we still need reinforcements in order to continue accompanying survivors, to continue providing medical help, legal help, psychosocial help and to maintain our training projects for girls living in forced prostitution situations.”
With your continued support we can help transform KOFAVIV’s vision to end violence against women into a reality!
Shots Fired at Haitian Human Rights Defender’s Home
Escalating violence against KOFAVIV founder and 2012 CNN Hero
August 26, 2013—New York, NY— Early Friday morning, a group of armed men arrived at the home of Malya Villard Appolon, General Coordinator of KOFAVIV, a Haitian grassroots women’s organization and long-time MADRE partner. The assailants fired gunshots at Ms. Villard Appolon’s house, leaving several bullet holes in her front gate and striking and breaking her front doorbell. The attackers returned later while police were at the scene, but officers were unable to make an arrest or apprehend the shooters.
“We are being attacked for trying to change something some people do not want changed,” said Marie Eramithe Delva, co-founder of KOFAVIV, in a statement to MADRE Executive Director Yifat Susskind. “We are being punished for defending women who are abused and for publicly speaking for women and children who cannot speak for themselves. They won’t stop until they silence us.”
This attack is the latest in series of escalating threats against KOFAVIV workers and their families. Unknown attackers have killed Ms. Villard-Appolon’s dogs, entered her home without permission and attempted to obtain information about her whereabouts, and appeared at the KOFAVIV office and both Ms. Villard-Appolon’s and Ms. Delva’s personal residences demanding money.
Both Ms. Villard Appolon’s and Ms. Delva’s children have been followed, making it unsafe for them to attend school. Since March 2012, there have been several kidnapping attempts aimed at both Ms. Villard Appolon’s children and Ms. Delva’s children. Ms. Villard Appolon herself was held at gunpoint in 2010 and paid a ransom to be allowed to return to her family. Ms. Delva and Ms. Villard Appolon are outspoken survivors of politically-motivated beatings and sexual assaults.
MADRE strongly condemns the actions of the perpetrators who terrorized the home of Ms. Villard Appolon, as well as the escalation of aggression against KOFAVIV’s members and defenders of human rights throughout Haiti.
Thanks to your support of this project, MADRE was recently able to send financial support to KOFAVIV, our Haitian sister organization, to reinforce their lifesaving programs and services for rape survivors. With your support, KOFAVIV will be able to provide essential hygiene kits to rape survivors who are staying at the emergency shelter at the KOFAVIV Women's Center after fleeing recent acts of violence and abusive environments. Furthermore, KOFAVIV will continue providing legal services to rape survivors, a crucial step in finding them the justice they so deserve. Thanks to your backing, the KOFAVIV Center continues to serve as a safe haven for women and girls who have survived sexual assault and gender-based violence. We are so proud to count you among our supporters of this vital program!
I have exciting news to share — a worldwide campaign is taking off, and we need you!
As someone dedicated to women's rights worldwide, you're probably well aware of the lifesaving work of Haitian women who mobilize to protect rape survivors. MADRE and our Haitian sister organization KOFAVIV have worked together to make sure that women get the urgent care and long-term counseling they need to heal.
And now, we're fighting to extend this protection even further — by making it Haitian law.
We're pushing for a breakthrough revision in the Haitian legal code that will prohibit and punish violence against women. Crucially, it prohibits and punishes all sexual assault, including marital rape. This legislation is truly groundbreaking. It will help bring justice for all women who face violence in Haiti.
Here's where you come in:sign this letter of support for Haitian women's petition to pass this important legal reform. The more signatures we get, the more we build a movement in support of every woman's right to live a life free of violence.
To commemorate November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, KOFAVIV gathered their staff and their members at the KOFAVIV Women's Center to discuss the importance of this day for both women and for women’s organizations worldwide. Throughout the day, the participants reflected on issues relating to gender-based violence in their communities in Port-au-Prince, throughout Haiti, and internationally.
Every year leading up to November 25, KOFAVIV chooses a slogan to rally their members and the general public around the objective of raising awareness about the different forms of violence against women and girls as well as the different methods civil society can use to help stop this violence in Haiti. This year's slogan was "Men nan men, san silans ak anpil tolerans, nap kwape vyolans", which translates to "Hand in hand, with a lot of tolerance, we'll break the silence and put an end to violence".
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