Safe Haven: Sheltering Displaced Persons from Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. Case Study: Haiti

Authored by: Kim Thuy Seelinger

Categories: Human Rights, Humanitarian Emergencies
Sub-Categories: Migration, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), Sexual and Reproductive Health
Country: Haiti
Region: Latin America and the Caribbean
Year: 2013
Citation: Seelinger, Kim Thuy. Safe Haven: Sheltering Displaced Persons from Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, Case Study: Haiti. Berkeley, CA: Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, 2013.

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Executive Summary

Vulnerability to sexual and gender-based violence arises in many displacement contexts, whether related to armed conflict or natural disaster. Those fleeing an emergency situation may be susceptible to rape, sexual exploitation, or trafficking while attempting to secure transport, cross borders, or find lodging. Even once settled—whether in refugee camps, internal displacement camps, or urban centers—vulnerability to harm persists. In fact, displacement is believed to increase insecurity through new and exacerbating conditions, including the breakdown of family and community ties, collapsed gender roles, limited access to resources, insufficient security, and inadequate housing in camp settings. As part of its Sexual Violence Program, the Human Rights Center conducted a one-year study in 2012 to explore and improve understanding of the options for immediate, temporary shelter for refugees, internally displaced persons, and other migrants fleeing sexual and gender-based violence in countries affected by conflict or natural disaster. We define shelter flexibly. For example, it may be in the form of a traditional safe house, or a network of community members’ homes, or other safe spaces coordinated by a base organization. Our aim was to generate research-based evidence to inform donors, policymakers, and international and local actors about types of relevant models, priority challenges, and promising practices.