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With Arcade Fire’s Grammy Win, Will Justice for Haiti Go Mainstream?

With a win at the Grammy Awards last night,  indy rock band The Arcade Fire took one great stride toward the mainstream. (Which leaves me hopeful for the mainstream. Arcade Fire are great!).

Fans already know this, but Arcade Fire are long time advocates for Haiti.  One song on their Grammy award winning album is even titled Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains), which refers to this book about Paul Farmer’s quest to transform global health policy through the work of his NGO Partners in Health in Haiti.

One NGO supported by the band is The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. As the name would suggest, the group advocates the Haitian government and the international community on behalf of justice sector reform, human rights, and against electoral malfeasance like the kind that occurred in November.  The band’s homepage links to a funding appeal for the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti to for legal efforts against Jean Claud  ”Baby Doc” Duvalier, Haiti’s longtime strongman who inexplicably returned to the country last month.

I’ve come to know the NGO through its groundbreaking (and heartbreaking) reports that draw attention to the epidemic of rape that is plaguing Haiti’s displaced persons camps.   I encourage everyone to read their report Our Bodies Are Still Trembling, from which this video seems to be drawn from that report.

Haitian Women Testify from Adam Stofsky on Vimeo.

So will the Band’s now very mainstream stardom mean that these kinds of issues and questions will receive greater attention here in the United States (and Canada–the band’s from Montreal)?  Hard to tell. For now, though, it’s nice to see the band using their platform to support grassroots NGOs like this.


  • ECP

    Love Arcade Fire (I’m from Montreal), love Haiti (I live in Port-au-Prince) and real close of women’s shelter NGOs that have worked in Haiti’s capital for years. I hope the situation of women in general and gender based violence in particular will get better, especially with all those displaced people who are living in precarious situations that increase sexual violence risks.

    But, like other mainstream medias in the States, speaking of an epidemic of rape is outrageous. I’ve met lots of rape and gender based violence victims in Haiti in the last few years. The situation is allarming, but all the NGOs who are speaking of an epidemic, or even an increase in 2010, are fraudulent. Even the real gender based violence NGOs, working for more then 20 years (SOFA, Kay Fanm) in Port-au-Prince don’t use those words.

    Ask any of the NGOs or medias speaking of an epidemic (or even increase) to compare there numbers with last year and you won’t get anything. The long time NGOs working with gender based violence victims were the first ones last spring to shout at the risks increased in camps and other temporary living situations, but none of them can’t confirm or denial an increase of rape victims. They are doing the comparison right now: they are writing their annual reports and comparing it to the last years.

    Please do not do sensationalism like big news medias too often do.

  • Cemoin

    IJDH filled an interesting niche in Haiti cause their is a real need for justice. But they lack of credibility cause they seem to work as a proxy for a dubious champion who failed for the last 20 years to educate and bring social justice to his own constituancy. As for the (true) rape – one rape is already too much – allegation which was only ballooned by the Oxfam report effect, there is no proof that the practice is so widespread or used as a weapon, although may haitians feel various organizations ngo just used it in that perspective to further harm poor Haiti who is already over its knees in order to perpetuate a profitable fait accompli. As for the UN who brought us kidnapping, inflation, chlolera,…. when will you clean your act? Don’t mess with my country good name.

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