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Haiti: KOFAVIV | Zanmi Lasante

KOFAVIV (Commission of Women Victims for Victims)

© Daniel Smith

KOFAVIV is an organization established by and for rape survivors from the poorest areas of Port-au-Prince. KOFAVIV combines support for individual women with the power of grassroots women’s organizing to transform the underlying conditions that give rise to sexual violence against the poor. 

The women of KOFAVIV are survivors in every sense of the word. After losing their homes and possessions in the January 2010 earthquake, they reconstituted the organization in one of the sprawling, makeshift camps of Port-au-Prince. There, they are responding to epidemic levels of rape by working with MADRE to prevent and redress sexual assault, care for survivors and build a movement for human rights in Haiti.

Meeting Immediate Needs

KOFAVIV has a long history of providing rape survivors with direct support and services, and they are continuing this work in the camps. They have over 1,000 members in the camps, and women know that they can turn to KOFAVIV if they’ve been raped.

KOFAVIV provides rape survivors with critical and immediate support, accompanying them to the hospital and the police station. MADRE is working with KOFAVIV to prevent rape in the camps by organizing nighttime community watch groups and providing cell phones, whistles and flashlights to women in the camps.

Movement Building for Social Change

Long before the earthquake, KOFAVIV was mobilizing rape survivors in Port-au-Prince to be part of a movement for social change. In the wake of this disaster, their work is even more important to the safety and well-being of women living in the camps. With support from MADRE, KOFAVIV is working to strengthen the network of women living in the camps by:

  • Providing a safe space for women to gather, support one another and organize to meet their needs and rebuild their community networks.
  • Offering trainings for women on how to stay safe, manage stress, care for traumatized children and maintain family health and hygiene in the hazardous environment of the camps.
  • Facilitating psycho-social support through peer-counseling groups of rape survivors who empower one another to heal and rebuild their lives.

Advocating for Human Rights

KOFAVIV and MADRE are seeking justice for rape survivors by partnering with Haitian lawyers to pursue cases and advocating internationally for safe conditions in the camps and a Haitian-led reconstruction process that respects women’s human rights.

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