On January 4th, 2017, an outrage occurred in Haiti, as the latest tragedy of gender based sexual violence presented itself for all to witness. A 16-year-old young woman was gang-raped and the video of this heinous crime was streamed live worldwide via the Internet. The five men who actually raped this young girl remain at large. However, on January 26, 2017, Haitian authorities reported the arrest of dozens of males’ ages 16 to 44 suspected of similar criminal acts within the island. According to several Haitian news outlets, the Port-au-Prince prosecutor's office along with two senators have offered a reward equivalent to $7,500.00 USD for information leading to the arrest of the 16 year old’s alleged rapists.
The problem of gender based violence in Haiti, particularly child sexual abuse is a public health issue, which has sparked the attention of Word and Action, Inc. (W&A), a Florida based non-profit organization. W&A’s mission is to support children and families impacted by child sexual abuse both in the States and in Haiti through prevention, advocacy and clinical services. We recognize the legal response to this public health phenomenon has been woefully inadequate and there exist a lack of judicial infrastructure for victims to seek recourse. The reporting of sexual violence to the police in Haiti remains a very difficult and convoluted process. Thus, it contributes to countless cases being underreported. The Overseas Security Advisory Council indicated that sexual crimes in Haiti have become a major problem and crime statistics are woefully under documented by the Haitian National Police.
As part of its mission W&A has led a campaign of Awareness in various cities in Haiti, and seeks to lead the conversation and collaborate with the Haitian government and stakeholders toward judicial reform. It is time to create preventive laws and measures in order to protect Haiti’s vulnerable children. W&A board members have already reached out to several Haitian lawmakers and will continue to push for concrete actions regarding this important issue. We are also working on a legislative proposal with our legal advisors to advocate for children impacted by gender based violence. With the support of concerned lawmakers, W&A hopes to submit its proposal to both Haitian legislative chambers.
Today, we are urging our local/state-wide community members to reach out to Haitian government officials and ask them to take concrete action to put tackle this problem. The violation of our children must stop. This disconcerting problem of gender based violence, in particular child sexual abuse, cannot be taken lightly. Our community and our children will no longer be silent. Let us hear and respond our children’s Silent Cries and provide preventive measures to protect the future generation against sexual predators.
Our prayers and hearts go out to this 16 year old, her family and all those impacted by this traumatic crime. W&A encourages the Haitian justice department to diligently take legal steps to protect the community. We hope that justice will be served swiftly. It’s about saving children’s lives.
Should you like to support Word and Action, Inc. in bringing awareness to sexual violence on children please visit www.WordAndAction.org
Michelle [Mea] Allman
Word and Action, Inc.