Written by Nguyet
16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence: Day 5: KOFAVIV
Today is International Women Human Rights Defenders Day. So as today’s focus for the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence we are profiling KOFAVIV, the Women’s Commission of Victims for Victims in Haiti.
The Women’s Commission of Victims for Victims was founded in March of 2004 by women who were survivors of sexual violence during the period following the September 30, 1991 coup d’etat in Haiti. In February of 2004 Aristide was once again forced from office. In the wake of this second coup, violence soared and with it a dramatic increase in sexual violence. The women of KOFAVIV wanted to work with the victims of the renewed violence to help them locate medical surfaces and provide solidarity to them as they grappled with the aftermath of sexual assault.
Over the next few years KOFAVIV was able to establish a large network of organizers doing outreach throughout the impoverished neighborhoods of Port au Prince. Community organizers worked with women who had been victims of violence, getting them access to medical services, taking testimony, and connecting them to a network of healing circles. They also launched training programs for men and boys on the impact of sexual violence and did trainings throughout the city on HIV/AIDS prevention.
Many women in KOFAVIV’s network were killed in the earthquake of January 2010 when their clinic was destroyed. Most of the survivors were forced to relocate to the IDP camps where a combination of a lack of resources and general insecurity have fed a new cycle of gender violence. The women of KOFAVIV organized once again to link women with services and with each other, and also banded together to help the many young people in the camps orphaned by the earthquake. The video profile below was created by Mother Jones to celebrate KOFAVIV being selected for the Anita Roddick Award for Courage in Action. It provides a good overview of their work.
The Quixote Center was an early supporter of KOFAVIV’s work (2005-2009).
If you are interested in supporting KOFAVIV’s work through a U.S. based 501c3 MADRE is one of their closest partner organizations. This link is a direct link to donate through MADRE for KOFAVIV’s work.
The video below includes KOFAVIV co-founder Malya Villard-Appolon and MADRE executive director Yifat Susskind speaking at NYU about their joint work.