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Publication Date

Winter 2011

Abstract

While gender-based violence is not a new phenomenon in Haiti, the aftermath of the January 12, 2010 earthquake further exposed the vulnerability of Haitian women and girls to gender-based violence and the limited possibilities for women to evince a judicial response to gender-specific violations of the law. Drawing from the experiences of Haitian lawyers and women’s rights advocates, this paper will examine women’s barriers to accessing justice in Haiti by drawing on actual examples of gender-based violence at each step of the investigatory process under the Haitian justice system. It will provide, by way of background, an overview of the Haitian justice system, including gender rights under Haitian law, the framework of Haiti’s obligations with respect to the administration of justice, and the structure and processes of each institution implicated in the pursuit of justice for cases involving gender-based violence. Additionally, the case studies will reveal the requirements and barriers women confront at each stage of the process. The article will then explore community-based responses to addressing these barriers and provide recommendations on legislative, judicial, and law enforcement reforms aimed at improving women’s access to justice.

Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank Mario Joseph, director of the BAI, Brian Concannon, director of IJDH, and Lisa Davis, clinical professor for the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic at CUNY School of Law, for their support, mentorship and guidance throughout her work in Haiti.

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