Gender-based Violence and Economic and Social Rights in Haiti

A billboard to raise awareness about violence against women in downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

The January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti confronted emergency workers, public health professionals, and human rights workers with complex, interwoven challenges that spanned the fields of public health, development, and human rights. In response to a need expressed by human rights advocates and women’s groups in Haiti, who were among the first to expose abuses being suffered by women and girls in the camps for internally displaced (IDP) people in Port-au-Prince, the Global Justice Clinic conceived its Project on “Gender-based Violence and Women’s Access to Food and Water in Post-Earthquake Haiti”–which it launched in the fall of that same year. Supported in part by a grant from NYU’s Global Public Health Research Challenge Fund, and working closely with CHRGJ staff and partner organizations, this project built on the Center’s many years of previous work in Haiti, which has often found itself situated at the intersection of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) and gender issues.

The Center’s Project on GBV had multiple aims but its primary goal was to contribute meaningfully to the development of solutions to reduce rights violations. Designed following extensive consultations with grass-roots and human rights organizations in Haiti, the project aimed to determine, through empirical evidence:

  • The prevalence of gender-based violence (GBV), with an emphasis on sexual violence in camps for the internally displaced (“IDP camps”); and,
  • what links, if any, exist between vulnerability to GBV and access to food and water in IDP camps in post-earthquake Haiti.

In order to examine the rates of GBV in IDP camps, the project developed and implemented a household survey in several camps. It used quantitative data resulting from the survey to identify correlations between sexual violence and a variety of food-and water-related variables, as well as other variables related to economic and social rights. Preliminary results and observations were bolstered by qualitative data from focus group discussions and interviews with experts, survivors, and service providers to understand, contextualize, and question the correlations found through quantitative methods.

These methodologies were developed and implemented over the course of the 2010-11 academic year, the summer of 2011, and the fall of 2011 by several groups of students and interns working alongside the Project’s Primary Investigator, Professor of the GJC, and Faculty Director of the Center, Margaret Satterthwaite, and the Center’s Executive Director, Veerle Opgenhaffen, as Co-investigator. Teams from both the Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 GJC created and implemented the survey, and gathered qualitative data through focus groups and interviews. The Center’s summer interns and Scholar in Residence continued the work, conducting quantitative data analysis alongside coding and analysis of focus group data and interview results. The Fall 2011 GJC team completed data collection, planned a community report-back mechanism, and began a new project focused on the issue of sexual exchange and exploitation alongside partner organizations.

A briefing paper highlighting preliminary results of the household survey, administered in January 2011, was published in March 2011 in order to make public the most pressing and salient descriptive results of the survey and to make them useful to partner organizations who continued to express an urgent need for this kind of tangible information. Among the findings were higher sexual violence prevalence rates than previously recorded in post-earthquake Haiti and heightened vulnerability among young women, particularly those experiencing severe food deprivation. The final report, aggregating all of the quantitative and qualitative data, with in-depth analysis, was then published in January 2012.

Relevant Documents

Report: Yon Je Louvri: Reducing Vulnerability to Sexual Violence in Haiti’s IDP Camps (2012)

French version of Yon Je Louvri

Report: Struggling to Survive: Sexual Exploitation of Displaced Women and Girls in Port au Prince, Haiti (2012)

Briefing Paper: Sexual Violence in Haiti’s IDP Camps: Results of a Household Survey (2011)

Some of the preliminary results of the survey on GBV, as presented in the March 2011 Briefing Paper.

The Project’s Research Team

Project Director and Primary Investigator


Principal Authors of the Report

    • Farrell Brody, (GJC, Fall 2010, Research Assistant, Spring 2011)
    • Nikki Reisch, (CHRGJ Intern, Summer 2011; Legal Intern, Fall 2011)
    • Margaret Satterthwaite, (Professor of Clinical Law; Director, GJC)
    • Justin Simeone, (CHRGJ Intern, Summer 2011; CHRGJ Scholar in Residence, 2011-12)

Core Research Team

    • Farrell Brody: Lead, Survey and FGD Design and Implementation, (GJC, Fall 2010, Research Assistant, Spring 2011)
    • Ellie Happel: Lead, FGD Design and Survey Implementation, (Research Assistant, Fall 2010; GJC, Spring 2011)
    • Jean Roger Noel: Field Manager and Study Implementation, (Haitian Research Team Leader)
    • Veerle Opgenhaffen: Study Design, Ethics, Survey and KII Implementation (Co-Investigator, Executive Director, CHRGJ)
    • Nikki Reisch: Lead, Legal Analysis, KII Implementation, (CHRGJ Intern, Summer 2011; Legal Intern, Fall 2011)
    • Margaret Satterthwaite: Supervision, Study Design, Implementation, and Analysis (Principal Investigator; Director, Global Justice Clinic and Faculty Director, CHRGJ)
    • Justin Simeone: Lead, Data Analysis, KII Implementation, (CHRGJ Intern, Summer 2011; CHRGJ Scholar in Residence, 2011-12)
    • Daniel Tillias: Field Project Advisor and Study Implementation (Haitian Team Research Leader)

Contributing NYU Researchers

    • Naila Awan: Research, (GJC, Fall 2011)
    • Isabelle Bourgeois: Research, (Center Associate, Spring 2011)
    • Greger Calhan: FGD Design, (GJC, Spring 2011)
    • Francesca Corbacho: Research, (Research Assistant, 2010-2011)
    • Isabelle Figaro: (Research Assistant, Spring 2011; GJC, Fall 2011)
    • Kelly Geoghegan: Ethics and IRB Review, (GJC, Fall 2010)
    • Heather Gregorio: Research, (CHRGJ Intern, 2011-12)
    • Susan Hu: KII Design (GJC, Spring 2011)
    • Marleine Marcelin: Research (CHRGJ Intern, Summer 2011)
    • P. Scott Moses: Research, (Lecturer, University of Maryland College Park)
    • Trina JP Ng: Research, (Research Assistant, 2010-2011)
    • Giulia Previti: Lead, Survey Design, (GJC, Fall 2010)
    • Rosa Raffaelli: Research, (GJC, Fall 2011)
    • Melissa Rowlett: Research, (CHRGJ Intern, Summer 2011)
    • Leah Seldin-Sommer: Research, (Research Assistant, 2011-12, NYU School of Public Health)
    • Emerson Sykes: KII Design and Implementation, (GJC, Spring 2011)
    • Harya Tarekgen: Research, (Research Assistant, 2010-2011)

Haiti Field Research Team

  • Michel-Ange Dagrain, (Researcher, Haiti Field Team)
  • Jean Dider Deslorges, (Researcher, Haiti Field Team)
  • Lubens Desrosiers, Lubens Desrosiers
  • Mackenzy Dor, (Researcher, Haiti Field Team)
  • Manassé Elusma, (Researcher, Haiti Field Team)
  • Jean Rony Emile, (Researcher, Haiti Field Team)
  • Junior Jean François, (Researcher, Haiti Field Team)
  • Gloria Germain, (Researcher, Haiti Field Team)
  • Jules Indieu, (Researcher, Haiti Field Team)
  • Robenson JN.Julien, (Researcher, Haiti Field Team)
  • Occean Nephtalie, (Researcher, Haiti Field Team)
  • Rose Mercie Saintilmont, (Researcher, Haiti Field Team)
  • Pierre Anderson Soulouque, (Researcher, Haiti Field Team)
  • Saint Hubert Talino, (Researcher, Haiti Field Team
  • Jude Wesh, (Researcher, Haiti Field Team)