Achieving justice for victims of rape and advancing women's rights in Haiti

by TrustLaw
Tuesday, 29 May 2012 06:55 GMT

The aftermath of the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti in January 2010 saw a dramatic increase in sexual violence, putting women and girls at especially high risk due to the lack of basic infrastructure in the camps and beyond, including limited lighting, security, sanitation facilities and safe housing. The realities on the ground also gave fresh impetus to long-standing calls for rape law reform.

To prepare for the October 2011 meeting of the UN Human Rights Council on Haiti, international women's rights organisation MADRE requested comparative research through TrustLaw on rape legislation. The research was used to highlight best practices in other countries and support the subsequent reform of rape legislation in Haiti, with a view to ultimately providing better support to rape survivors and increasing the likelihood of prosecutions.

Morrison & Foerster led and coordinated the research, working with DLA Piper, Latham & Watkins and Reed Smith to review rape legislation and procedures in Brazil, Canada, France, South Africa, Sweden and the United States and supply concrete examples of laws and policies that implement women's human rights. It includes models for statutes, protocols for victim services, and guides to police and prosecutorial procedures which respect the experiences of victims and advance gender justice.

In 2011, the Thomson Reuters Foundation hosted a first-of-its-kind forum of Haitian government official, police, lawyers, prosecutors, doctors and women's groups in Port-au-Prince, alongside MADRE and their local partner KOFAVIV. The goal was to find practical ways to ensure better protection, care and justice for Haitian women and girls.