TAKING TO HAITIAN STREETS AGAINST CHILD SEX ABUSE

[MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA] - Haiti’s third annual Carnaval des Fleurs received an additional element of celebration when Word and Action (W&A) nonprofit organization permissibly joined the floats. Courtesy of Dr. Claude Surena, Mrs. Nancy Carraha, Mr. Philippe Dodard, and Mr. Yves Penel, thirty Haitian Red Cross volunteers paraded through the crowded streets of Port-au-Prince on behalf of Word and Action with banners hailing “Children are flowers, do not abuse them.” and “Say No to child sexual abuse”

In a bold attempt to speak out against the silent cries of sexually abused children, Word and Action garnered a worldwide audience to sit up and be aware of this epidemic. Overseen by the office of President Michel Martelly, the Carnival was and is part of the revitalization of Haiti since it suffered one of the world’s biggest natural disasters in 2010 taking the lives of 250,000 of the President's people. This said during the time of carnival highs there are prolific lows indicating sexual abuse to be rife and reports are documented as accidental incidents never rape or sexual abuse.

With Port-au-Prince filled to capacity; according to the Ministry of Tourism 22,000 visitors arrive between July 20-30th and 3,000 specifically for Carnival. With a city teaming with tourists and non-residents sexually based incidents are common. This is partly why the nonprofit organization Word and Action selected the Carnival of Flowers as a platform to reach a world audience and city officials with their message on behalf of the child-victims.

Established in Miami in 2006, W&A has worked constantly with thousands of sexual

abuse victims and plans to build a permanent psychotherapeutic and medical center in Port-au-Prince to treat and rehabilitate victims of abuse. The House of Hearts facility will attempt to tackle head on the alarming issue of sexual abuse statistics as 30% of abuse cases are family members and 50% of children under six years old with 60% heinously committed by a relative they most trusted. In Haiti the exact number of children being sexually abused is unknown, because not only is this a taboo issue but victims tend to be reluctant to report the incidents because of fear of stigmatization.

Although statutory rape and sexual aggression exists in Haitian laws, however, if there is no physical proof normally the abuser goes unpunished. Figures of abuse are startling as W&A reports that one in ten children will be sexually abused before the age of eighteen years old and 44% of rapes occur in children under eighteen. With the organization's presence at the “Carnival of Flowers” a milestone was crossed in reaching out visually and vocally to a captive worldwide audience.

Drawing the immediate attention of The Red Cross Organization in Haiti, interest has been expressed in the possibility of collaborating with Word and Action in an effort to bring to life the House of Hearts Project; initiating a unique facility, to act as a refuge for victims offering advice, prevention, rehabilitation, treatment and aid in establishing work and trades.

W&A will also be launching its own paperback entitled “Unspoken truths” which is to be a compilation of poetry and prose by published and unpublished writers. The highly anticipated book project, House of Hearts center and other similar projects will be featured and followed up on the W&A website www.wordandaction.org

W&A Director of Media & Marketing: Contact Bridget Duvall- Kennedy 786.704.2338 info@wordandaction.org

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