Dark history, bright future in Haiti’s fight against gender based violence
Samaritan’s Purse is helping to create a new future for families in Haiti.
To understand the horror of gender-based violence in Haiti, you need only look to the country’s laws and commonly held beliefs.
As recently as a decade ago, rape wasn’t considered a major crime.
This attitude, and that women are seen and treated as second-class citizens in general, is still a reality in many Haitian households. But Samaritan’s Purse is using donations from people like you to work with church partners to change behaviors one home at a time.
Haiti is steeped in a history of slavery, government oppression, poverty, and natural disasters such as the devastating 2010 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 Haitians. Weaving its way through all these tragic points in history is violence that’s deeply rooted in Haitian homes and communities.
“Gender-based violence was known as something normal here in Haiti where mostly women were being beaten, raped and abused in different ways. It was after the revision of the law in 2005 they started to recognize those acts as GBV,” said Johny Jean, Samaritan’s Purse project coordinator. “It is difficult to reach the whole nation and change their mindset on this issue. But our program has done a very good job by training women to know their identity and their value.”
Insp. Deforge Alain Jean Clonel of the Haitian National Police’s Gender-Based Violence department
One of those on the front lines is Insp. Deforge Alain Jean Clonel, of the Haitian National Police’s Gender-Based Violence department. His department fields thousands of calls from women facing domestic abuse, a problem that worsened following Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake.
“Before the earthquake, there were structures in place to combat gender-based violence, but much of that was lost,” he says. “Although we don’t have all the means we once had, we continue to fight.”
The department is partnering with Samaritan’s Purse to use education through church partners to stem the tide of violence.
Through Samaritan’s Purse church partners—90 church leaders in 45 congregations—counselling and training on the Biblical view of marriage is happening, along with workshops stressing the importance of treating women with dignity, and providing couples with alternative ways to resolve marital issues without quarreling or violence.
These programs have reached hundreds of people in Haiti, including members of the media, politicians, police chiefs, and United Nations officers.
Haitian radio journalist Charles Claudy attended the Samaritan’s Purse training, and now is dedicated to using his reach to fight gender violence.
“The training sessions greatly opened my eyes,” he says. “Even though my shows are not typically about gender-based violence, I always reserve time to send out that message. I want to be part of the people bringing change to my country.”
“There is an improvement in the attitude towards women, but we need more people to be involved in that change,” says Insp. Clonel. “I’m grateful to Samaritan’s Purse because they are helping this movement to remain alive so we can train even more people.
“The work is great, but there is not enough people.”
Ways you can help
Pray that efforts to eliminate gender-based violence in Haiti through education and the Gospel of Jesus Christ will reach deeply into hearts of men and women and into communities, and that the Church will continue to lead in this change.
Your gift can help rescue women and children from the cycle of abuse in Haiti, and empower the local Church to break the chains of violence that have gripped Haiti for generations. Donate Here