Every aspect of Haitian society is being negatively affected by gangs, who in the absence of a functional government, operate with impunity. Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald reported that a violent gang in Martissant stole the generator of the Sainte Croix Hospital in Léogâne and are holding it for ransom. The hospital is forced to shut down unless the gang returns the generator or another is donated. This is a tragedy upon an existing tragedy given Haiti's already very high infant and maternal mortality rates. The full article follows.
Haitian women are holding the country together - yet are vulnerable to gender-based violence and other abuses. According to USAID, one out of every three Haitian women between the ages of 15 - 49 has experienced gender-based violence. In this era of #MeToo, women are increasingly choosing to be voices for change instead of suffering in silence. Haitian comedian Gaëlle Bien-Aimé is a brave Haitian comedian who has shared her experience as a rape survivor and became a human rights activitist. Through her performances, her outreach, and her example she encourages other survivors to do the same. Most about this inspiring activist in the full article below.
The Haitian government has a responsibility to determine who can and cannot enter/stay in the country and under what circumstances. In the wake of the Oxfam prostitution scandal, the government has indicated that it intends to review all charities to determine the extent to which their staff have been involved in/reported sexual abuse and exploitation. The list of foreigners who have sexually exploited Haitians is long - but it especially stings when committed by people who claim they are there to help such as UN peackeepers, rogue missionaries, and aid workers. This review could be a first step to improving oversight of the multiltudes of NGOs in Haiti. The full article by Reuters journalist Joseph Gulyer Delva follows.
The U.S State Department has released the 2017 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) reports. The Haiti Country Narrative (copied below) notes that while Haiit does not meet minimum standards for preventing and responding to TIP, it is making significant efforts to improve. This included strengthening its interministerial anti-trafficking commision, working more closely with international organizations, improving investigations and prosecutions and obtaining convinctions under the 2014 antri-trafficking law. In short, progress is being made although much more remains to be done.
Stateless persons are not recognized as citizens of any country. They are often vulnerable to exploitation due to a lack of access to health care, education, work, and justice. It is a major problem in the Dominican Republic where the the government has long been reluctant to grant citizenship to Dominicans of Haitian descent. Last week, the Haitian Parliament voted to accede to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, making it the third member state of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the 69th country in the world to do so. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) issued a statement praising Haiti for its committment. To become involved, consider joining UNHCR's "I Belong" Campaign to End Statelessness.
Below is a an article by Forbes writer Jo Piazza about Haitian-American entrepeneur Alexis Gallivan. With the management skills she acquired selling ice cream in Brooklyn, Gallivan decided to replicate her business in Haiti. Being an entrepeneur in Haiti is tough - it ranks 182nd out of 189 countries in the latest Worrd Bank "Ease of Doing Business" Report. To put that into perspective, Afghanistan is 177th. However, the Haitian diaspora is full of individuals with skills, resources, and the potential to create small businesses that provide training and livelihoods. Learn more at the Bel Rev website.
Toilet paper is something that it is not adequately appreciated until one does not have it - and forty percent of Haitians do not. Myrtha Vilbon, with support from USAID, has grown her toilet paper production facility significantly. While Haiti is not yet an easy place to do business, she has done well, with over 100 employees (70 of them women) in her factory. The full article by the Miami Herald's Jacqueline Charles follows.
The U.S. State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) is mandated to release annual country-specific human rights reports that address individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The 2015 report for Haiti is linked and copied below. There have been some modest improvements from last year - for example in improving oversight of the police. However, there is a long way to go in reforming the justice system, corrections, and protecting the rights of women, children, and the disabled. Post your thoughts about human rights in Haiti below.
Below is an article by the International Press Service's Ansel Herz describing upcoming legislative changes that would make it easier for survivors of rape to prosecute their attackers. The reforms have high-level support and could pass within a year. While much more remains to be done, these reforms would represent significant progress.