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Acclaimed Journalist Speaks Out Against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Haiti

Award-winning journalist Anne-christine d’Adesky will share her research in Beyond Shock: Charting the landscape of sexual violence in post-quake Haiti — a book published by UCSB’s Center for Black Studies — today at 2 p.m. at the Student Resource Building, as part of the department’s continuing efforts to study the cultural, political and social aspects of Haiti.

Acting as the opening volume for “Onward,” a series created by Black Studies professor Claudine Michel, the book focuses on the increase in sexual violence in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake, while it also discusses grassroots efforts to help post-quake victims. D’Adesky, co-founder of the female advocacy group PotoFanm+Fi, has been a long-time gender and sexual rights activist and is one of six co-founders of The Lesbian Avengers, a group advocating lesbian rights. D’Adesky also launched WE-ACTx, a global initiative working with the Rwandan government and other groups to help provide free HIV care to orphans and survivors of genocidal rape.

With a foreword by Edwidge Danticat — a Haitian author and fellow co-founder of PotoFanm+Fi — Beyond Shock is the culmination of d’Adesky’s comprehensive research conducted in the Republic of Haiti. This research includes a field study of over 2,000 teenagers who have become impregnated by rape or have resorted to prostitution as a means of basic survival.

Diane Fujino, new director of the Center for Black Studies Research, said the book will allow students to understand how atrocities are not necessarily the result of natural disasters, but are exacerbated by them. She also said it is important for students to realize that natural disasters are not necessarily ‘natural’ since they are often the result of historical human actions.

“I hope that students will gain a sense of what disasters mean in the world and the human impact of them,” Fujino said. “These so-called natural disasters are actually a creation of human-created priorities and choices.”

D’Adesky based her book on updates from over 60 different agencies and field providers, with these updates discussing progress made fighting sexual and gender-based violence and providing clearer insight into media reports regarding rape and violence occurring in Haiti, Fujino said.

“Marginalized people — in this case, women and children — are constantly targeted by sexual violence,” Fujino said. “The government is making choices to not help them, such as only spending one percent of funding toward fighting sexual abuse.”

In addition to today’s talk in the SRB, d’Adesky will also speak tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Granada Books on 1224 State St. in Santa Barbara. Both events are free and open to the public.

A version of this article appeared on page 1 of October 22nd’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.

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