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Violence Prevention & Response as a Part of Emergencies and Health Programming in Haiti

Croix-Rouge Haitienne - Canadian Red Cross

  • 16 March 2018
  • Posted by: Nicolas Devia
  • Number of views: 1472
Violence Prevention & Response as a Part of Emergencies and Health Programming in Haiti

The 2010 earthquake in Haiti left the already impoverished country in a state of crisis. As years passed by reconstruction seemed like an unattainable task and violence, crime and poverty where taking away the happiness and hopes of the Haitian people. The destruction of the education system and therefore the weakening of the system meant a condition of ignorance on many topics, being sexual education one of the most affected. When institutions can’t cope the needs of the citizens and there’s a misconception of what sexuality means, sex is then transformed as an exchangeable good. Women, adolescents and girls found themselves in an atmosphere of fear, uncertainty and impunity which normalizes violence in all of its forms, being sexual violence the most relevant one. The work of the Canadian and Haitian Red Cross has been to put in place cultural programs that de-normalize violence and empower young leaders to be agents of transformation in their communities.

A shared belief throughout community leaders, citizens, volunteers and experts is that one of the solutions for the situation of violence in Haiti is the improvement of the education system, especially in the area of sexual education. Sometimes boys engage in sexual harassment thinking they are only playing a sort of an innocent game in which they are looking for the girls’ attention. Girls by their part, believe that violence against them is caused because of mistakes they might have made. Both beliefs are based in a society’s value-system that normalizes and allows violence to thrive, not because of cultural reasons but rather of a situation in which citizens are concerned with their mere survival.

The harsh atmosphere has left into the Haitian people a sequel of disbelief, hopelessness and fear. On the interviewed by the Red Cross, 40% felt hopelessness, fear and stress after the disaster, accompanied by a 3% who lost faith in their god and a 3% who wanted to leave the country. Those statistics are only on the desires and feelings of the interviewed, the data on the victims shows an even more harsh reality: 100% of women were witness of or engaged to transactional sex. Transactional sex is a form of violence in which sex is offered as a mean of obtaining a certain good or service, the majority of times women engage in this activity looking for safety or food.

The Canadian and Haitian Red Cross has put into place programs that aim to rebuild the social fabric of the communities most affected by the disaster. “Haiti en scéne” brings vulnerable children together in a safe space for them to enjoy and perform art. By spending time and interacting with others, the children of “Haiti en scéne” leave the program being less tolerant with violence and in a better mental state than those who weren’t part of the experience. Those children often communicate their knowledge and hopes to their communities, acting as a trigger for change in the society’s code of ethics. “Fanm Decide” is a NGO that also looks to empower young leaders through education and culture. By talking with kids and adolescents about their sexuality “Fanm Decide” identified the misconceptions they had about the relationships with women and how to treat them respectfully. Through sexual education workshops at their schools, the NGO achieved to inform students about their rights, their duties and their bodies when interacting with others, providing the needed tools to live a healthy sexual life.

Category:Projects and Programs
Institution:Croix-Rouge Haitienne - Canadian Red Cross

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