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Feb 22, 6-8PM @ NYU: Human Rights Law and Gender-based Violence in Haiti

What: Human Rights Law and Gender-based Violence in Haiti: New Paths toward Prevention and Accountability

Where: Room 206, Furman Hall (245 Sullivan Street), NYU School of Law

When: Tuesday, February 22, 2011, 6-8 PM (followed by a reception)

Please RSVP to


Malya Villard-Appolon, Co-Founder of Haitian Women’s Rights Organization KOFAVIV

Lisa Davis, Esq., Human Rights Advocacy Director, MADRE, Adjunct Professor of Law for the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic, CUNY

Meg Satterthwaite, Faculty Director, CHRGJ; Associate Professor of Clinical Law, NYU Global Justice Clinic

Yifat Susskind, Executive Director, MADRE

More than 1.5 million people were displaced by the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010. Since that time, accounts of incidents of gender-based violence in camps for internally displaced people have spiked, causing alarm among camp residents, civil society organizations, NGOs, and other concerned actors. This violence is taking place in a context of extreme resource scarcity, lack of security, weak judicial and security sector capacity, and vulnerability for vast swaths of the IDP population. These factors are aggravated by what has largely been viewed as an inadequate response by both the Haitian government and the international community, complicated by—among other elements—the resumption of deportations of undocumented Haitians from the US to Haiti and stalled disbursement of pledged aid by the US government as Haiti undergoes a significant political transition.

Despite these many obstacles, several groups are fighting against the tide to document, advocate, and litigate against gender-based violence in Haiti. This panel discussion brings together representatives from several groups who are tackling this issue from multiple angles, including through a survey on the connections between GBV and access to food and water in the camps; a petition for precautionary measures before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to require that the government of Haiti and the international community take such immediate action as ensuring security and installing lighting in the camps; several cases being filed on behalf of victims within the Haitian judicial system; and extensive efforts at creating stronger networks for outreach, referral, and protection on the ground.

Please join us in welcoming a distinguished group of panelists who will discuss both the obstacles and possible avenues to justice for GBV taking place in the Haitian context today.

About our Moderator:

Lisa Davis, Esq., Human Rights Advocacy Director

For over ten years Lisa Davis has worked as an advocate for human rights and has written extensively on international women's human rights issues, including on LGBTQ rights and sex worker rights. Lisa currently serves as the Coordinator for the Lawyers' Earthquake Response Network (LERN) Gender Working Group. She is a member of the New York City Bar Association’s International Human Rights Committee and the National Lawyers’ Guild Working Group on Haiti. Lisa is also an Adjunct Professor at CUNY Law School, teaching in the International Women's Human Rights Clinic.

About our Speakers:

Malya Villard-Appolon, Co-Founder of KOFAVIV

Malya Villard-Appolon is a co-founder and leader of KOFAVIV in Haiti (Komisyon Fanm Viktim pou Viktim, The Commission of Women Victims for Victims). Based on her experience as a rape survivor, Malya, along with Eramithe Delva, set up KOFAVIV to address the medical and psychological needs of rape survivors in 2005.

After the January 2010 earthquake, the years of Malya's community engagement allowed her to act quickly, distributing humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable displaced people. When rapes began to escalate in the camps, she organized to provide urgent medical services, demand an end to impunity and rebuild communities.

Margaret Satterthwaite, Associate Professor of Clinical Law at NYU School of Law, Faculty Director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) and director of the Global Justice Clinic.

Professor Satterthwaite’s research focuses on economic and social rights, human rights and counter-terrorism, gender and human rights, and rights-based approaches to development and emergency. Her connections to Haiti began when she was hired as an investigator for the Commission de Verité et de Justice (Haitian Truth and Justice Commission) in 1995. Since then she has made Haiti a focus of her writing and advocacy. Along with collaborators from CHRGJ, Zanmi Lasante, Partners In Health, and the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights, she co-authored the human rights report Wòch nan Soley: The Denial of the Right to Water in Haiti (2008) and a journal article with the same title, published in Health and Human Rights (2009). She is Chair of the Haiti Advocacy Committee of RFK Memorial Center for Justice and Human Rights, serves as an Advisory Committee member for the newly-formed service organization HaitiCorps, and is currently engaged in a project on gender-based violence and economic and social rights in Haiti.

Yifat Susskind, Executive Director, MADRE

At MADRE, Yifat Susskind has worked with women’s human rights activists from Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East to create programs in their communities to address violence against women, economic development, climate change, and armed conflict. Coupling this experience with her extensive writing on US foreign policy and international issues, Yifat enables audiences to grasp the real-life impacts of their government’s policies on women and families around the world, offering people concrete ways to take positive action. Her critical analysis has appeared in online and print publications such as, Foreign Policy in Focus, AlterNet, and been included in books such as The W Effect: Bush’s War on Women. Before becoming Executive Director of MADRE, Yifat was part of a joint Israeli-Palestinian human rights organization in Jerusalem, using journalism, advocacy and political organizing in her work for peace.

Veerle Opgenhaffen

Senior Program Director

Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ)

NYU School of Law

139 MacDougal Street, Room 514

New York, NY 10012


Office: +1-212-992-8186

Cell: +1-917-526-1972

Fax: +1-212-995-4646

Lisa Davis, Esq.
Human Rights Advocacy Director
MADRE: Demanding Rights, Resources & Results for Women Worldwide
121 W. 27th Street, Room 301 - New York, NY 10001
212.627.0444 (p) - 212.675.3704 (f)

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