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Haiti: Training women to support survivors of sexual violence
July 29, 2010
By The IRC
Haiti Country Director Hakan Bilgin and gender-based violence staff person Evelyne Cesar speak with women whom the IRC has trained to support victims of violence in Teleco camp.
Heidi Lehman, the IRC's director of the gender-based violence unit, is in Haiti this month. She describes the scene in this recent photo from Teleco camp:
The IRC’s Haiti Country Director Hakan Bilgin and a gender-based violence staff person named Evelyne Cesar were in Teleco camp last week. Teleco is a makeshift settlement where families made homeless by the earthquake have built impromptu shelters.
Hakan and Evelyne spoke with a few women who live in the camp, and whom the IRC has trained to support victims of violence in the camps.
In March 2010, the IRC identified nineteen women from three of the camps for displaced people. These women were already resource people whom other women in the communities would go to in case of problems. Unfortunately, the problems facing women and girls in these sites include sexual and physical violence. Despite security concerns, the nineteen women came forward courageously and committed themselves to expanding their support of other women in their communities.
Through IRC training, they learned how to listen and communicate about gender-based violence, how to provide psychological and social support, and how to refer survivors of sexual violence to services. The women then began to serve survivors in their respective communities. They have also implemented outreach activities and awareness campaigns to sensitize community members about gender-based violence and the availability of support services. Weekly mini-trainings provide the opportunity for the women to remain closely networked with the IRC.
Heidi says, "These women are so strong and so determined to help the other women in their communities. And that’s exactly what they are doing."