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October 1st Forum at Fordham University School of Law Features Reading by
Lynn Nottage, Author, Pulitzer Prize Winner and MacArthur “Genius” Fellow

NEW YORK, NY– October 1, 2013 – The Haitian Roundtable, Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees, the New York Women’s Foundation, Women’s City Club of New York and the law firms of O’Melveny & Myers and Reed Smith have joined with key community and women’s advocacy organizations and leaders, human rights and legal experts to co-sponsor a special Haiti Dialogue Series entitled Haiti’s Forgotten: What You Can Do To Help Survivors of Sexual Violence. The panel discussion, taking place at Fordham University School of Law, will examine gender-based violence against women and girls in Haiti in the 3 years following the 2010 earthquake.

The forum, which will feature notable experts from Haiti and New York, will also serve as a call-to-action to the Haitian Diaspora and New Yorkers on ways to assist victims and survivors of such violence. This special Haiti Dialogue Series is being Co-Chaired by MacArthur “Genius” Fellows, authors Edwidge Danticat and Lynn Nottage (Pulitzer Prize Winner for RUINED). Nottage will read a short story to open the Forum.

Haiti’s Forgotten is a follow-up forum to the May 4, 2010 panel Reconstructing Haiti: Women At The Center moderated by noted journalist and commentator Maria Hinojosa, which discussed the “Rele” Gender Shadow Report calling for the inclusion of Haitian women at all decision-making levels during reconstruction in Haiti and gender-based sexual violence following the January 12, 2010 earthquake, which devastated the country located in the Caribbean.

Following the January 2010 Haiti earthquake that killed more than 220,000 people and displaced almost 25% of the nation’s population, reports of rape and sexual violence have greatly increased. Since that time, attorneys from the law firms of Reed Smith and O’Melveny & Myers have, on a pro-bono basis, traveled to Haiti to assist survivors and have been successful in securing Humanitarian Parole allowing Haitian victims to enter the United States to receive much needed medical, mental health and supportive services.

Haiti’s Forgotten Panelists to include: Jayne Fleming, Human Rights Attorney and Pro Bono Counsel, Law Firm of Reed Smith; Professor Leah Hill, Director, Fordham University Law School, Family Advocacy Clinic; Maricia Jean, Victims Advocate and Survivor; Christina Nichols, PhD, Clinical Psychologist; andNinaj Raoul, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees. Taina Bien-Aimé, Esq., Executive Director of the Women’s City Club of New York (WCC) will moderate the panel.

Taina Bien-AiméEsq., Executive Director of the Women’s City Club of New York (WCC) said:
“Enough is enough. Countries around the world strive to give voice and justice to victims of sexual violence; so can Haiti. The time has come to prevent, protect and prosecute; women’s lives depend on it.”

Edwidge Danticat, Award-winning Author who is currently on a book tour, said:
“These survivors’ testimonies remind us that so much suffering in the shadows of indifference can no longer continue. Haitian women are the backbone of the country; the future depends on their strength, courage and the carriage of justice. ‘Forgotten No More’ should be our collective call to make sure that every woman and girl in Haiti is protected from violence.”

Jayne Fleming, Human Rights Attorney and Pro Bono Counsel, Reed Smith LLP said:
“I’ve traveled to Haiti 30 times since the earthquake. Conditions for women and girls are getting worse, not better. Violence is increasing, not decreasing. Victims are becoming younger and more vulnerable, not stronger and more protected. The climate of impunity persists. Haitian women are crying out in pain. The world does not hear their cries.”

Professor Leah Hill, Director, Fordham University Law School, Family Advocacy Clinic said:
“The legal challenges of responding to sexual violence against women are, in many ways, universal. How do we create a system of justice that encourages women to come forward and counteracts the shame and guilt often associated with such violence? How can we make sure that the multiple systems women encounter–the health care system, the advocacy system, the criminal justice system–work collaboratively to ensure justice?  Can we structure a system that can withstand changes in the political climate? The answers to these questions may be different for Haiti than the U.S., for example, but there are certain challenges that cut across the cultural divide and they are often uniquely connected to the status of women throughout the world.”

Lynn Nottage, Pulitzer Prize-winning Author said:
“Whether sexual violence happens in the Congo, in U.S. prisons or in Haiti, as members of the global community we have a moral responsibility to help find constructive and lasting ways to end human rights violations against women and girls. The voices of these resilient and courageous women are loud and clear: the desecration of their bodies must end.”

Rosemonde Pierre-Louis, Deputy Manhattan Borough President and Chair of the Haitian Roundtable said:
“Eradicating sexual violence in Haiti is a top priority of the Haitian Roundtable. Haitian women are the ‘poto mitan’, the supporting beam of Haitian Society. Continued Gender Based Violence in the aggregate has a destabilizing effect throughout the country and is unacceptable. We look forward to working with our partners to raise awareness about sexual violence and work to find innovative solutions for ending it.”

Ninaj Raoul, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees said:
“I am inspired by the brave women of FAVILEK, victims of political violence in Haiti who often put their lives at risk to organize support for each other.  They combat sexual assault as a human rights violation and provide direct support to rape survivors, connecting them with essential legal and medical services.”
Jerri Shick, Pro Bono Counsel, O’Melveny & Myers LLP said:
“I am both overwhelmed and inspired by the strength and courage of Haitian women and girls who have survived sexual violence.  I believe we can make a difference in their lives, one woman, one girl at a time.”

The Haitian Roundtable (HRT), founded in New York in 2008, is an organization comprised of Haitian-American professionals who are committed to civic engagement as well as philanthropic endeavors benefiting Haiti, Haitian organizations and causes. The organization seeks to heighten awareness locally and nationally of Haitians as an emerging constituency among key stakeholders and institutions through networking, forums and events.  The Haitian Roundtable hosts the Haiti Dialogue Series, which serves as a forum to discuss current and relevant topics that impact the Haitian community.  The Series brings together distinguished thought leaders and accomplished practitioners for candid conversation on a variety of important issues.  For more information about the Haitian Roundtable, please go to www.thehaitianroundtable.org</a


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