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La Vallee de Jacmel, Haiti Women’s Safety and Self Defense Group

We will be setting up a group in a community Center named CODEHA in La Vallee de Jacmel, Haiti to teach women of the village attack prevention as well as self-defense and community organization. According to a report written by MADRE in collaboration with several other human rights organizations, gender-based violence in Haiti is perpetuated and justified by "entrenched" social norms (MADRE et al. 26 Apr. 2012, 2). We would like to create an area for women to come together to talk about their concerns about safety in the community and how to fix those concerns and change the status quo. According to MADRE, gender-based violence in Haiti is "committed with near complete impunity," and "the government has yet to implement effective measu

Photo of Dr. Carolle Jean-Murat M.D.
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The group will meet once or twice a week in the community center named CODEHA to learn women’s basic self-defense. There will also be group meetings where the women can discuss their challenges and concerns and organize the community so their voices are heard. Once Internet is set up in the center we will also have web seminars so we can spread our message through Haiti and the world.

Explain your idea in one sentence.

Teaching the women of La Vallee de Jacmel how to prevent attacks, self-defense and create an atmosphere where they can share ideas on how to keep the community safe.

What is the need you are trying to solve?

Since the earthquake in 2010, violence against the women of La Vallee de Jacmel and surrounding areas has increased substantially. Violence against women was already prevalent even before the earthquake that hit the country [in January 2010] (Violence Prevention & Women's Resource Center 28 Feb. 2011; Human Rights Watch 2011, 1). According to Human Rights Watch, the disaster "has exacerbated the vulnerabilities" of women in Haiti. We would like to help prepare these women so they can walk around without a male escort and so they can feel secure traveling to the city for work. In the instance of an attack, the woman will be prepared to defend herself and escape. These women need a place where they can come together and empower each other so their voices will be heard.

Who will benefit from this idea and how would you monitor its success?

The women of La Vallee de Jacmel, Haiti and surrounding areas will benefit greatly from this group. We will monitor our success with the team of people who operate CODEHA daily. Many women will benefit from this training as well as the community at large as the women will talk and implement ways to make the community safer.

Who would be best equipped to implement this idea in the real world? You? Your organisation? Another organisation or entity?

CODEHA – a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Haiti; the Health Through Communications Foundation and its Angels for Haiti Project – a US-based 501 ( c)3 – non-profit organization and UMass Dartmouth ENACTUS are best equipped to implement this idea in La Vallee de Jacmel, Haiti because of our intimate knowledge of the village and surrounding communities. We also have the location of the community center to organize the group as well as all the materials to teach the self defense course.

Where should this idea be implemented?

La Vallee de Jacmel, Haiti.

How might you prototype this idea and test some of the assumptions behind it?

People from La Vallee de Jacmel are excited about the possibility to be able to take such a course – including the mayor who happens to be a woman. We plan to make this course an intricate part of the curriculum being taught at CODEHA with the hope to offer it to other women in the surrounding areas such as in Jacmel, where security if of greater concern.
Once we prove the success of the programs in La Vallee and Jacmel, we will expand throughout Haiti with groups and seminars.

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This is our Team with Some girls from LaVallee de Jacmel, Haiti


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Photo of Ryan Sarafolean

I think that this is a great idea to teach women basic self defense classes. We too are building a "safe-space" but in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya where we provide free schooling for girls. I think that this is an idea we will most definitely take into consideration for future programming. Thank you for your work!

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