Text: H.Res.61 — 113th Congress (2013-2014)

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Introduced in House (02/06/2013)


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[Congressional Bills 113th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H. Res. 61 Introduced in House (IH)]

113th CONGRESS
  1st Session
H. RES. 61

 Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United 
States should work with the Government of Haiti to address gender-based 
                  violence against women and children.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                            February 6, 2013

    Ms. Wilson of Florida (for herself, Ms. Brown of Florida, Mrs. 
  Christensen, Mr. Conyers, Mr. Hastings of Florida, Ms. Norton, Mr. 
 Honda, Ms. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, Mr. Lewis, Mrs. Carolyn B. 
  Maloney of New York, Mr. McGovern, Ms. Moore, Mr. Moran, Ms. Roybal-
    Allard, Ms. Sewell of Alabama, and Mr. Thompson of Mississippi) 
submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee 
                           on Foreign Affairs

_______________________________________________________________________

                               RESOLUTION


 
 Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United 
States should work with the Government of Haiti to address gender-based 
                  violence against women and children.

Whereas tens of thousands of women and girls have been victims of sexual or 
        gender-based violence in Haiti, particularly in times of conflict or 
        natural disaster;
Whereas women's rights groups in Haiti have witnessed dramatic increases in 
        rates of sexual violence in many of the displacement camps established 
        after the earthquake;
Whereas approximately 50 percent of the victims are adolescent girls under the 
        age of 18, with many of the cases involving the use of weapons, gang 
        rape, and death threats for reporting the crime;
Whereas medical providers have reported as many as 20 percent of adolescent 
        victims of sexual violence becoming pregnant as a result of rape;
Whereas inadequate financial, human, and technical resources, as well as a lack 
        of forensic and technical expertise, have impeded the arrest and 
        prosecution of suspects;
Whereas members of many medical professions are insufficiently trained to attend 
        to the special needs of victims of gender-based violence, whether they 
        be children or adults;
Whereas according to data from public interest law firms involved in prosecuting 
        cases of sexual violence, significant gender-based barriers to justice 
        continue to exist at all levels of the Haitian justice system;
Whereas members of the police, prosecutors, and judges are insufficiently 
        trained to attend to either the special needs of victims of gender-based 
        violence, or the special needs of those individuals who are victims of 
        other abuses such as forced labor, beatings, or violence;
Whereas the special police unit to address gender-based violence within the 
        Haitian National Police remains significantly under-resourced, rendering 
        it practically ineffective to carry out its mandate;
Whereas few mechanisms exist in Haiti to protect the rights of young children 
        not living at home, such as restaveks, who are engaged in forced labor 
        and especially vulnerable to sexual violence;
Whereas the lack of physical protection discourages women and girls in Haiti 
        from pursuing prosecution of perpetrators of sexual violence, for fear 
        of reprisal or stigmatization;
Whereas rape and other forms of gender-based violence in Haiti threaten the 
        physical and psychological health of both the victims and their 
        families;
Whereas an effective, transparent, and impartial judicial system is key to the 
        administration of justice, and the failure to ensure proper 
        investigations and prosecutions undermines the ability to hold 
        perpetrators accountable for their crimes and discourages victims from 
        formally seeking justice;
Whereas the Government of Haiti has undertaken efforts to prevent violence 
        against women, as evidenced by its ratification of the United Nations 
        Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against 
        Women, the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and 
        Eradication of Violence Against Women, and other international human 
        rights treaties, and the enactment of laws and the creation of state 
        institutions to promote and protect the rights of women;
Whereas the Ministry for the Status of Women and Women's Rights in Haiti has 
        been working on a comprehensive law that calls for the prevention, 
        punishment, and elimination of violence against women;
Whereas the Government of Haiti has been a signatory of the United Nations 
        Convention on the Rights of the Child since December 29, 1994;
Whereas the Haitian National Police and the United Nations Mission for 
        Stabilization of Haiti have created special police units to address 
        sexual and other forms of gender-based violence in Haiti;
Whereas the United Nations and donor countries, including the United States, 
        continue to play a significant role in post-earthquake stabilization and 
        reconstruction of Haiti;
Whereas the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has 
        prioritized the prevention of, and response to, gender-based violence as 
        a priority in its work across all sectors and as an explicit goal of the 
        new USAID Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy;
Whereas USAID and the United States Department of State have been directed by 
        Executive order of the President to implement a new interagency United 
        States Strategy To Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence 
        Globally;
Whereas in March 2009, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued a 
        report recognizing Haiti's history of gender discrimination that fuels 
        gender-based violence and gives rise to a climate of impunity; and
Whereas in December 2010, the Inter-American Commission detailed steps the 
        Government of Haiti must take to protect women and girls from increased 
        risk of gender-based violence in post-earthquake Haiti: Now, therefore, 
        be it
    Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
            (1) sympathizes with the families of women and children 
        victimized by sexual and other forms of gender-based violence 
        in Haiti;
            (2) urges the treatment of the issue of violence against 
        women and children as a priority for the United States 
        Government's humanitarian and reconstruction efforts in Haiti;
            (3) recognizes that the problem of gender-based violence is 
        a surmountable one;
            (4) affirms that prioritizing economic opportunities for 
        Haitian women that enable them to lift themselves and their 
        families out of poverty is a cost-effective way to help reduce 
        gender-based violence;
            (5) recognizes the urgent opportunity to implement the new 
        United States Agency for International Development (USAID) 
        Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy and United States 
        Strategy To Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence 
        Globally and on the ground in Haiti;
            (6) asserts its support for the passage of Haiti's first 
        comprehensive law on the prevention, punishment, and 
        elimination of all forms of gender-based violence;
            (7) calls on the Government of Haiti to establish urgent 
        plans that address the needs of vulnerable and unprotected 
        children who are in situations of sexual exploitation, forced 
        labor, or face sexual and domestic violence, and to take steps 
        to immediately implement those plans, in consultation with 
        grassroots organizations working specifically on the protection 
        and promotion of the rights of children;
            (8) calls on the Government of Haiti to take steps to 
        implement the recommendations of the Inter-American Commission 
        on Human Rights issued in response to increased levels of 
        sexual violence in camps for internally displaced persons on 
        December 22, 2010, including--
                    (A) ensuring participation and leadership of 
                grassroots women's groups in planning and implementing 
                policies and practices to combat and prevent sexual 
                violence and other forms of violence in the camps;
                    (B) ensuring provision of comprehensive, 
                affordable, adequate, and appropriate medical and 
                psychological care in locations accessible to victims 
                of sexual violence in camps for those internally 
                displaced;
                    (C) implementing effective security measures in 
                displacement camps, such as providing street lighting, 
                adequate patrolling in and around the camps, and a 
                greater number of female security forces in police 
                patrols in the camps and in police stations in 
                proximity to the camps;
                    (D) ensuring that public officials, such as police 
                officers, prosecutors, and judges, responsible for 
                responding to incidents of sexual violence receive 
                specialized training from experienced Haitian and 
                international women's organizations with a proven track 
                record in gender-sensitive protection enabling them to 
                respond adequately to complaints of sexual violence 
                with appropriate sensitivity and in a nondiscriminatory 
                manner; and
                    (E) maintaining effective special units within the 
                police and the prosecutor's office investigating cases 
                of rape and other forms of violence against women and 
                girls;
            (9) asserts its commitment to support the Haitian Ministry 
        of Women's Affairs in its efforts to--
                    (A) build ministry capacity and facilitate gender-
                based violence subcluster meetings and initiatives as 
                it transitions over to the Government of Haiti;
                    (B) perform decentralized meetings, consultations, 
                and outreach to women's movements and community groups;
                    (C) address issues of gender-based violence 
                country-wide, including violence in internally 
                displaced person camps, rural communities, and among 
                children; and
                    (D) strengthen gender assessments, gender budgets, 
                and gender planning in collaboration with other Haitian 
                Ministries, the Haitian Parliament, the Haitian 
                Administration, the United Nations, the Inter-American 
                Commission on Human Rights, donors, and international 
                nongovernmental organizations within the reconstruction 
                process; and
            (10) asserts its support for the Government of Haiti, 
        especially the Ministry of Women's Affairs, in its efforts to 
        assess, amend, and renew its 5-year gender protection plan, 
        which expired in October 2011, which includes support for the 
        Haitian Government in its efforts to accomplish the following--
                    (A) thoroughly assess the impact of the previous 5-
                year protection plan, including both pre- and post-
                earthquake analyses and perform diversified assessments 
                in consultation with local, regional, and national 
                women's groups throughout the country, that will help 
                gather decentralized data in both urban and rural 
                zones;
                    (B) perform specialized surveys and interviews in a 
                significant sampling of internally displaced person 
                camps and impoverished neighborhoods with high rates of 
                gender-based violence with victims of rape and 
                violence, the community groups that support them, and 
                local officials in order to fully understand the needs 
                and recommendations of these different populations and 
                integrate these findings into a revised protection 
                plan;
                    (C) revise the existing Haitian protection plan 
                based on the results of diversified and decentralized 
                assessments and in direct consultation with national, 
                regional, and local government officials and grassroots 
                organizations, including women's groups and 
                international institutions that focus on solutions to 
                gender-based violence; and
                    (D) work with the Haitian Parliament and the 
                Haitian Administration to amend, reintroduce, and pass 
                into law a revised Haiti gender protection plan that 
                reflects current post-earthquake realities, including 
                the needs and recommendations of victims of gender-
                based violence and the community groups that support 
                them, integrates provisions for judicial and medical 
                services for gender-based violence victims, and 
                reflects key findings of decentralized assessments in 
                both urban and rural zones.
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