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A Special Father's Day Communique & Call to Action: Help End Violence Against Women & Girls

A Special Father's Day Communique & Call to Action
Help End Violence Against Women & Girls


Greetings from PotoFanm+Fi! We are a global solidarity initiative launched after the January 12th earthquake to support Haitian women and girls and grassroots organizations to rebuild Haiti. We are inviting you to join us today in honoring Haiti’s fathers – and sons.

We are also issuing a special Father’s Day Call To Action to Haitian men and boys to become vocal, active leaders in ending rape and violence against women and girls in Haiti…

A National Commemoration: Across Haiti and the Diaspora, leaders have issued a Haiti Father’s Day call for a global commemoration of fathers and sons who died on January 12th – and those who are living. You are invited to join Haitians in a moment of silence to honor Haitian fathers and sons who died that day, and to honor those who bravely worked to help others survive the tragedy.

We add our prayers and thoughts to the many families who are grieving for their cherished fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, and sons. We give special honor to the many beloved sons whose lives and futures were tragically cut short on January 12th. Haiti’s children are the future –the loss of so many young boys and men leaves a hole in Haiti’s heart.


There are far too many Haitian men and boys who perished in the earthquake to cite here, though all deserve to be remembered and missed. Today, we honor public figures including Port-au-Prince Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot and the vicar general, Msgr. Charles Benoit and church priests who perished; Hubert Deronceray, a political leader and three-time candidate for President; and popular opposition leader Micha Gaillard. We also honor Jacques Jean Wilbert, a senator from the Plateau Central and Louis Michelet, a senator from l’Artibonite; legal judges Me Roc Cadet and Jean-Claude Rigeur; Patrick Isidor in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Pierre-Richard Jean-Pierre, head of the Ministry of Culture and Communications, and host of the national television literary program.

We honor the physicians Willy Verrier, Serge Cinéas, Vladimir Dossous, Pierre Alix Laroche, Chéro Germeil, Buissereth Lascaze and Jacques Célestin. We honor the engineer-agronomists Jean Fritz Boutin, Arsène Constant, Kernisan Chéry, Manès Lainé, Jackson Robert, Antonio Pierre-Lys, Christele Destin, Jude Zéphyr, Julien Romain, and Fruck Dorsainvil.

We honor academics including the many who died in the collapse of Haiti's Faculté de Linguistique Appliquée (FLA) including 'Creolist' Pierre Vernet, the dean of the linguistics department at FLA, and vice-dean Wesner Merant, and professors Yves Alvare and Guercy Antoine; Alix Auguste, director of the UCCADDE; professor Serge Petit-Frère, Jacques Valbrun of ASCUHADO; and Louis Lucrece Larosilière, head of the Centre Technique Saint-Gerard; and Junior Delinois, a linguist.

We honor musicians, including well-known promoter Joubert Charles; lead singer of the group Phantom; Ronald Rodrigue; rappers Young Cliff, Jimmy O and Evenson; and \"Shacan Lord\" Francis of the group Gasoline Clan; the drummer Peterson Louis; bassist Smith St. Felix; and members of the bands Djakout Mizik, Kreyol La, Nu Look, Krezy Mizik, Mika Ben, Mizik Mizik, and Carimi.

We honor the many writers and artists including Haitian-Quebecois writer George Anglade; the artist Louko of the Atis Rezistans collective; and painters Raoul Matthieu and Alix Roy.

We honor journalists Wanel Fils of Radio Galaxie; Henry Claude Pierre of Radio Magic 9; and Belot Senatus, a cameraman for Radio Tele Guinen. We honor Arthur De Mettéis, a columnist at Le Nouvelliste newspaper.

In sports, we honor the many players, coaches, referees, and representatives of the Caribbean Football Union including coaches Alix Avin, Gérard Cineus, Antoine Craan, and Jean Yves Labaze.

In business, we honor Pierre-Richard Perrault, an auto dealer.

Friends of Haiti: We also honor the many non-Haitians who died while in service to Haiti, including the hundreds of UN members including: UN MINUSTAH Head of Mission in Haiti Hédi Annabi; his deputy Luiz Carlos da Costa; Supt. Doug Coates, Andrew Grene, Sgt. Mark Gallagher and their colleagues. We also honor the dynamic US-born artist and transgendered activist Flo McGarrell, director of FOSAJ in Jacmel.


In honor of their lives and memories, and for the many fathers who we have lost, we are offering a small excerpt below of a poem in French by Haitian writer Marc-A. Christophe, Professor at the University of the District of Columbia, about his father – and about fathers. (Reprint courtesy of the author. Source: ‘Le Pain de L’Exil (1988). English translation by PotoFanm+Fi)

Retour D'Age
(for Norbert)

Il était grand
He was big

Mon Père
My Father

Plus grand que les monts
Bigger than the mountains

Plus grand
Bigger than

Que le monde
The world

Qui tournait
That turned

Autour de ses pieds
Around his feet

Plus grand
Bigger than

Que l'univers
The universe

Dont il était
Where he was

Le centre
The center

Qu'il mesurait
That he measured

Dans l'arc
In the arc

De ses bras
Of his arms

La courbe des ses yeux
The curve of his eyes

Et dans mon regard
And in my young



Dans ma nostalgie
In my nostalgia

Of Love

Et mon admiration
And my admiration

J'adorais ce père
I adored this father


Today, we give special tribute and a global thank you to Haitian male leaders and activists who have distinguished themselves by speaking out and taking action – publicly, in their community, in their church, in schools, on the soccer field, among friends, in their family -- to help stop violence against women and girls.

Since January 12th, gender-based violence -- including rapes in camps – has greatly increased and represents a major crisis in post-quake Haiti. Rape is not a ‘woman’s issue’ or ‘girl’s issue’: sexual violence is a national problem and rape is a crime. Rape is a man’s issue, a family’s issue, a community’s problem, a citizen’s issue, a father’s issue, a son’s issue, a brother’s issue. Rape not only harms or destroys a woman’s or girl’s life -- it harms the entire family and impacts the community.

That includes the fathers and uncles and sons and grandsons who often bear silent, painful witness to these terrible crimes. It includes the men and boys living in camps who feel helpless now to protect their mothers or sisters or other girls vulnerable to the threat of rape in tent-cities with little security.

We call out to the men who rape or beat their wives, girlfriends, other women and girls. Who disrespect their mothers and daughters. You must stop using violence against women to express your rage. Rape is not powerful; it is weak -- an expression of pain turned against a woman. We urge you to examine this pain and your treatment of women and their families and communities, and your responsibility for destroying people's lives and sowing fear and insecurity in Haiti. You must end this violence, and take up lives of dignity and peace. Become the fathers and sons - the men - Haiti would honor.

It is time to end male silence – and shame - around rape in Haiti. It is past time to break the stigma, and to challenge social tolerance of all forms of sexual violence, including wife beating. It is time to end impunity for the crime of rape. It is also time to publicly acknowledge that male rape does occur – to men, to young boys - and this is another social taboo that must be shattered and stopped.

On this Father’s Day, then, we urgently call on Haitian men and male leaders to join hands with Haitian women advocates to make stopping sexual violence a national priority and a personal commitment. We call on them to push for greater government action around sexual violence – in all areas – from greater security in camps, to justice, to more education of boys and men.

For this to happen, men’s voices and leadership must come forward, and be louder, and be matched with action and vision. Men must call out other men. Haitian men and boys need to speak out, to be educated and to educate about sexual violence, and to confront social norms, cultural attitudes and notions of manhood that now contribute to disrespecting or disempowering women and girls.

As Haiti rebuilds, let it encourage a new generation of future fathers, husbands, sons, grandsons to become role models for Haiti, and to assure that every Haitian--woman and man, girl and boy--enjoy equal rights, including the right to be treated with equality, dignity, and respect, and lives free of violence.

Where Can You Start or Learn More?

In Haiti: Many organizations in Haiti are working to end sexual violence, and are getting the support of the government’s Ministry of Women’s Condition and Rights. Nationally, Kofaviv has been a leading group providing emergency and other services to survivors of rape. Other organizations including SOFA, Kay Fanm, the Platforme des Femmes Citoyennes and Lig Pouvwa Fanm are engaging in advocacy around sexual violence. In Jacmel, Fanm Deside focuses on services and justice issues around gender-based violence, and works closely with a men’s group that fights sexual violence. Haitian legal and human rights groups are also engaged. The Lambi Fund of Haiti, with offices in Haiti and the US, is providing critical supplies to displaced women in camps and provinces and working with grassroots groups. (

Haiti & Diaspora: MUDHA – the Movement of Dominican-Haitian Women (, working with partners including the Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees ( and Lakou New York ( has provided emergency supplies to women in border camps and is doing advocacy around rape (

In Canada: Haitian and Canadian activists from Canada Haiti Action Network ( are advocating around rape, including the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (

In Haiti: the FIRE international feminist solidarity camp, relocated to Port-au-Prince, provides media coverage of this topic and gives voice and a global platform to gender activists, working closely with CAFRA, the Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (

In the US: Dwa Fanm, based in New York, is a leader in this fight against sexual violence and focuses on the link of such violence to HIV/AIDS. It has a Tonel Lavi (“Life’s Roof”) Domestic Violence Program, workshops for church leaders and congregations, and uses interactive radio and television to reach and engage men in discussions around gender issues. Their program administers one emergency dwelling, transitional housing assistance, and emergency funds and legal aid, via its Jistis Pou Fanm (\"Justice for Women\") public policy and civil legal service program.

In Florida: Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami (FANM), (Haitian Women of Miami), is actively organizing in Little Haiti (

UN agencies: UNIFEM, UNFPA and UNICEF are among the UN agencies actively working to address sexual violence and security in post-quake Haiti and post updates at their websites (;; They are helping to develop a national GBV monitoring initiative.

Security: The UN Peacekeeping initiative also recently sent an all-woman corps of police from Bangladesh to beef up security in Haiti and tent cities around rape. Haitian police have also increased patrols around latrines and food areas of camps, but security is woefully inadequate in many tent-cities. Haitian groups have recruited men and women within tent-cities for GBV citizen patrols who also provide aid and referrals to raped women and their families.

Medical Care & Counseling: The GHESKIO hospital in downtown Port-au-Prince and the Haitian Red Cross and International Committee of the Red Cross ( provide emergency care for rape survivors, and access to rape and trauma counseling for survivors and families. So do the international NGOs Partners in Health (PIH), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) (, among other leading agencies. Save the Children also helps children survivors (

In Haiti: US actor Sean Penn's Jenkins-Penn Haitian Relief Organization (JPHRO) runs a large tent city in Petionville. At their Klinik Pou Fanm (Women’s Clinic), volunteers offer camp women seminars to learn how to take care of their tent, babies, and themselves; the importance of personal hygiene; safe sex; and most importantly, self-empowerment (

Legal AID & Justice: Droits et Démocratie en Haïti (the Haitian chapter of the Canadian–based Rights and Democracy organization) ( focuses on Rule of Law and legal reforms related to sexual violence, and works closely with groups such as MUDHA who provide legal aid to rape survivors.

Post-quake, the University of Virginia School of Law’s International Human Rights Clinic brought legal volunteers to focus on sexual violence and justice, working with longtime Haitian legal groups. The International Legal Assistance Consortium ( is actively working to build up Haiti’s justice system and capacity to address sexual violence cases.

Educate Yourself - and Others: Haitian Kreyol-language materials on domestic violence are freely available that are designed for survivors of domestic violence, including immigrants, and include information on signs of abuse, myths and facts about domestic violence, and available resources. English translations are provided wherever possible. Materials include:

· Bat Fanm: Sispann vyolans-la / Wife Assault: Let's Break the Silence (by Hot Peach Pages) and;

· Kisa K Vyolans Domestik / The Domestic Violence Handbook (by Dwa Fanm), with material for immigrant women. It lists signs to look for in a battering personality, and lists myths and facts about domestic violence. Click Here.

You can also find these resources Here.


PotoFanm+Fi is working to raise global public awareness of the escalating sexual violence and violence occurring in the post-quake climate of insecurity and chaos. You can find information and updates about groups and campaigns on our blog and field reports from Haitian women who are blogging at Last month, on Haiti’s Mother’s Day, we launched our first solidarity Action for Dignity campaign to provide critically-needed hygiene kits for women and girls living in Haiti’s tent cities , in partnership with Haitian and women’s organizations. You can join or directly contribute to this campaign at our blog. You are also invited to join PotoFanm+Fi. Men and boys welcome!

Globally, many organizations are promoting male leadership against sexual violence. They include:

· Man Up is a recently created global campaign that works with men and youth, especially in sports, to stop violence against women and girls. Its call to action challenges each of us to “man up” and declare that violence against women and girls must end. The Man Up Campaign works with partners to provide innovative training, resources and support for youth-informed initiatives (

· V-Day’s Haiti Rescue Fund. V-Day is actively campaigning to raise funds to fix and establish more safe houses in Haiti for rape survivors. V-Day welcomes men members (

· The American Jewish World Service (AJWS) has teamed up with the group EarthSpark to supply thousands of solar lamps to Cite Soleil – increasing security for displaced families (

· MADRE has provided emergency supplies for women in tent cities, including care kits for pregnant women, and is also assisting survivors of sexual violence (

Would you like to get regular updates from PotoFanm+Fi with views and news from and about Haitian women and the rebuilding Haiti effort? Click here to subscribe!

Don't forget to share this special Father's Day message with your friends and colleagues. Spread the word.

In solidarity and spirit,
the PotoFanm+Fi collective.

  • Gender-based Violence
    • Northern America
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