Health Policy Project

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Haiti: All Eyes on the New Paternity Act
from the left to the right Adeline Magloire CHANCY. Ginette Riviere LUBIN. Yanick MEZILE. Marie-Laurence Jocelyn LASSEGUE
Health Policy Project

September 16, 2014

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti—Making great strides toward the equal protection of children, the government of Haiti signed into effect a new law, Loi sur la paternité, la maternité et la filiation, in June of this year (Moniteur No 105). The law, commonly known as the Responsible Parenthood Act, requires parents to afford equal opportunities to children born in- and outside of wedlock.

Before the Responsible Parenthood Act, Haiti made a distinction between the rights of children born to legally married women and those born to women in traditional unions and single mothers (Daumerie and Hardee, 2010).There are five different types of union in Haiti. Of the five, only two are recognized by the Haitian government. However, the vast majority of women (59%) are involved in unions that are not legally recognized (Daumerie and Hardee, 2010). Until the passage of the Responsible Parenthood Act, this meant that 70 percent of Haiti’s children were considered born out of wedlock and therefore not permitted to take their fathers’ name or lay claim to their fathers’ inheritance. In a country with high rates of gender-based violence, trafficking, sexual exploitation, child labor, and domestic violence, this distinction greatly increased the vulnerability of these children and their mothers.

The Responsible Parenthood Act—and the work to promote it—ensures equal rights for Haiti’s children, regardless of their parentage, and advances the USAID-stated goals of improving child protection services and decreasing the incidence of human rights abuses that affect women, children, and sexual minorities.

The USAID-funded Health Policy Project (HPP) AKSE (Aksyon Kolektif pou Sekirite kont Eksplwatasyon—“collective action for security against exploitation”), implemented by Futures Group, is collaborating with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Women’s Rights (MCFDF) to promote the application of the new law. HPP AKSE works with local partners to strengthen human rights protections and expand access to sexual and gender-based violence and child protection services for vulnerable groups.

“The Responsible Parenthood Act will have a considerable impact on the health and well-being of women and children. It is an important step toward creating an enabling environment for positive change and will allow policymakers and civil society to better address child protection and gender-based rights throughout the country,” said Philippe-Raymond Cantave, HPP AKSE director and Futures Group country representative.

As part of its efforts to support the application of the new law, HPP AKSE mobilized civil society support, provided technical assistance to the MCFDF for judicial trainings, and disseminated 10,000 copies of the new regulation. On September 10–11, HPP AKSE convened a dissemination event, bringing together government representatives, civil society organizations, and legal professionals to learn about the legislation and how to apply it to protect those at risk.

Highlighting HPP AKSE’s contributions, the Minister of Women’s Affairs and Women’s Rights acknowledged the project at a September ceremony announcing the new law. She stated, “I would like to thank HPP AKSE for its continuous support to MCFDF in empowering Haitian women.”  In the coming months, HPP AKSE will continue to support MCFDF by launching a country-wide public awareness campaign to further promote the Responsible Parenthood Act and to expand the rights of Haiti’s women and children.

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Daumerie, Beatrice, and Karen Hardee. 2010. The Effects of a Very Young Age Structure on Haiti: Country Case Study. Washington, DC: Population Action International.

 
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The Health Policy Project is a five-year cooperative agreement funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development under Agreement No. AID-OAA-A-10-00067, beginning September 30, 2010. The project's HIV-related activities are supported by the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). It is implemented by Futures Group, in collaboration with Plan International USA, Avenir Health (previously Futures Institute), Partners in Population and Development, Africa Regional Office (PPD ARO), Population Reference Bureau (PRB), RTI International, and White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood (WRA). The information provided on this Web site is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

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