The reports from Haiti are more tragic everyday. The loss, the devastation, the aftershock, the grief and the suffering. Today, there are reports of losses to the women’s human rights movement– Myriam Merlet, Magalie Marcelin and Anne Marie Coriolan are Haitian women’s human rights defenders who were victims of the earthquake. This tragic loss will be mourned throughout the global women’s rights community but the impact will be felt deeply as Haiti rebuilds.
Women’s rights and gender equality must be promoted during the humanitarian relief process but also during the rebuilding process. On the Dianne Rehm show yesterday, academics and relief organizations spoke about the importance of recognizing the risk of gender based violence in refugee camps and the threat of violence against displaced women.
Amnesty recently reported on sexual violence against school girls in Haiti. The women’s rights leaders who lost their lives spoke out against the issue of gender violence in Haiti before the earthquake. The people of Haiti, and all of us, relied on human rights defenders like these to take a stand. My thoughts go out to the families of them and all of the victims of this disaster.