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.
Most agree that efforts to protect the safety, dignity and rights of the most vulnerable populations (women, children, the disabled, the elderly, etc.) in post earthquake Haiti could and should have been more effective. Women and children are still vulnerable to a range of protection threats including sexual abuse/exploitation and human trafficking. Interaction, an advocacy group for American non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has released two reports, on improving protection and on preventing and responding to gender-based violence (GBV) respectively. Both are thorough, well thought out, and are copied below.
Refugees International (RI) researchers Melanie Teff and Emilie Parry traveled to Haiti in September to assess the needs of Haitians displaced by the earthquake. Attached and below are their findings. For the displaced, this is still clearly an emergency. Less than 30% of camps have managers, a serious problem given insecurity and the fact that the majority of the displaced are not going anywhere until the Haitian government develops a systematic approach for determining land ownership and resolving property disputes. Most agree that the response of UN agencies could have been improved with better surge capacity, clarity over who is responsible for protection and a concerted effort to include Haitians in coordination efforts instead of shutting them out.
Before the earthquake women and girls faced great challenges. Now even more than ever. The earthquake did not discriminate based on gender, but women will be disproportionately affected. Death from childbirth, sexual violence, unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions, possible spread of HIV- these are a few of the increasing challenges facing Haitian women and girls. Despite this, lifesaving reproductive health services can reduce this unequal impact. The RHRC Consortium's statement describes the immediate and long-term health care needs of women and girls and is copied below.
Microfinance has been successful throughout the world, including in Haiti. Thanks to Mix Market, there is now an application that allows users to track microfinance. Mix Market has published data on more than 1,500 microfinance institutions (MFIs) in 190 countries. As Development Seed puts it,"The Mix Market is a Bloomberg for microfinance...it opens this information up to help MFIs, researchers, raters, evaluators, and governmental and regulatory agencies better see the marketplace, and that makes for better international development."
At the opening plenary of the 2009 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, Water.org co-founders Matt Damon and Gary White announced a $2 million commitment to provide 50,000 people in Haiti with safe water and sanitation over the next three years. Water.org has also launched a social media campaign so that anyone can participate in meeting the water challenge in Haiti. Click here to learn how you can become involved with either your time, financial support, or both.