Gender Based Violence in Haiti

Six months after the earthquake in Haiti, we see a continued crisis of safety and security in the displacement camps that has exacerbated the already grave problem of sexual violence.

In May and June, delegations coordinated by the Lawyers’ Earthquake Response Network (LERN) traveled to Haiti to investigate the problem of rape and other gender-based violence in the camps. They found that women are being raped at an alarming rate—every day—in camps throughout Port-au-Prince. The Haitian Government, the UN and others in the international community have failed to adequately address the situation. Women, especially poor women, have been excluded from full participation and leadership in the relief effort.

IJDH, MADRE, TransAfrica Forum, and the Universities of Minnesota and Virginia law schools released yesterday this Report Our Bodies Are Still Trembling: Haitian Women’s Fight Against Rape in an effort to bring to light the crisis and guide governments, international organizations, and other stakeholders in providing for even more effective protection and promotion of women’s human rights in Haiti.

Gender-based violence  (GBV) or violence against women is a global public health and human rights problem. Please join me in sending this report to colleagues, students, and organizations. And please contribute your comments and public health expertise online to The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.


Samantha Diamond

Yale University

BA/MPH 2011


No Blood in Prevention

When I was younger, my dream was to become a doctor.  I always knew that I wanted to help people improve their lives, and I was interested in healtcare, therefore I figured a career in medicine would be the best option for me.  I made becoming a doctor my goal and I worked really hard to make it happen.  Everything was going according to plan until one fateful day in the 2nd grade.   A freak accident during a routine art project caused me to staple a piece of construction paper to my left index finger.  My teacher promptly sent me to the nurse’s office and it was on the walk up that I discovered I would never become a doctor.  At the first sight of blood oozing from my wound, I began to feel nauseated.  I fainted right on the spot.  So there I was, a scrawny seven year old, passed out on the grass in front of the nurse’s office, with a shattered life’s dream and a piece of freaking construction paper stapled to my finger.

Fast forward approximately twenty years later.  My desire to help people improve their lives through the betterment of their health still remains.  Only now, the approach is much different.  Instead of through treatment, the improvements come through prevention.  To find answers to the questions that need to be asked, however, is a daunting and tedious task.  As students of public health, we inveribly read study after study about this or that.  Sometimes we might scoff at a sample size that we deem too small, or wonder why the researchers didn’t take a closer look at something.  It is not until we, ourselves, actually try and complete these studies that we realize just how much work actually goes into them.

A study that I am currently working on calls for data to be collected on 200 patients via written survey.  Easy enough….or so I thought.  At any given day in the clinic, the doctors may see 40 patients.  Half of them, however, usually are not eligible to participate.  Out of the remaining 20, half have already completed the survey at a prior visit.  That leaves maybe 10 eligible patients, some of whom don’t want to participate, and some of whom I miss because I am busy interviewing someone else.   Most days in the clinic, I spend 8 hours on my feet, running back and forth, trying to talk to people, only to come away with maybe 5 interviews.   And that’s if I’m lucky.   As harrowing as it is sometimes, I always leave the clinic feeling really happy.  In my mind, each and every survey is like gold.  While one survey alone may not be that big of a deal, each one is a part of something that is much bigger than myself.  Each one is a contribution. Each one is a piece of the puzzle that will eventually serve to unlock the answers to questions that may help people improve their heath and wellbeing.   And the best part is, I can do it all without seeing a single drop of blood.  That is of course, provided I don’t staple the surveys to my finger.

by Anonymous

The Toilet Man

When I walked into my office building today, I thought it was going to be like any other day. Go to my office. Drop off my bag. Take out my lunch from my bag and go to the pantry room to put it in the fridge. Fill up my water bottle. Get a cup of coffee. Go back to my office. And really begin the day.

Of course, that all changed when I got out of the elevator and heard my boss yelling out my name.

A few weeks ago, she emailed my department asking for volunteers for an internal training video that they were doing on hospital room infection/contamination. I replied late and said that if they were in a bind and were up for my William Shatner-style of acting, then I’d be down. Never heard back from her, so I figured I wasn’t selected – which is fine. It adds to my growing number of audition rejections that includes MTV’s Real World and a Kaiser Permanente commercial ad.

Well, apparently they were in a bind. They were shooting the video this morning and needed someone to play a male patient. My boss asked if I was free, so I checked my schedule and I was. Within an hour, I was taking the bus down to the main hospital campus and went to the hospital room where they were shooting the video. They gave me a hospital gown to put over my work clothes, taped an IV tube on my arm, and gave me my directions.

My role was a male patient who had gone to the bathroom. My directions were to flush the toilet, move my IV unit outside the bathroom door, wash my hands as I talked to my nurse, and then go back holding the IV unit. The point is that I had contaminated the IV machine with my unwashed hands and that the nurse contaminated herself by touching the same spot afterwards. Seemed simple enough, though I did ask what my motivation was. I also asked if they wanted me to go to the bathroom for real. There was no scripted dialogue either, so I was allowed to improvise and say whatever came natural to me. They were in trouble for doing it.

We ended up doing something like 8-9 different takes of the scene. As a side note, this should only be like a 1 minute scene. There was a lot of discussion about the angle they should shoot the scene. There was even a debate whether or not I should flush the toilet. After getting through 2 complete takes of the scene, it was a wrap and they moved on to the next scenes. I changed back to my work clothes and soon after, took the bus back to my office building. And it was just about when I got to my office and saw my office-mate, when it hit me.

I am now the Toilet Patient of the hospital. Or at least to those who see me in the video for whatever training purposes they are using it for. What a way to start out at a new place, eh?

Graduation caps!?!

Open comment thread on graduation hats! What should we wear? (And you thoughts as a comment below…)

Yale Forestry school graduates normally wear plants:
Other graduates choose to opt for a more personalized approach:

Public health??

Summer Map Beta Version

Thank you everyone who filled out our summer survey! Here’s my first attempt at building an interactive map to show where everyone is. You can move the pins to view multiple in one city, or you can just click here for the spreadsheet

We really are traveling all around the world!

FYI – I’ve been informed that the widget above only works in a Firefox browser. Sorry IE users!

Have you seen the new Yale Public Health magazine?

It looks great and it’s a huge improvement over the old newsletters. Congrats to everyone who was involved in this and everyone who was featured. (Nice story Gabe!)

Pedestrian Struck by Bus Outside of YSPH

Tyler Griswold shares this tragic story about (yet another) accident on South Frontage Street, right outside of YSPH:

NEW HAVEN — A 56-year-old man suffered serious head injuries Monday after being struck by a bus while crossing South Frontage Road, a roadway that pedestrians say is a nightmare to cross….

The scene has repeated itself along the stretch. Two years ago, a Yale public health student was struck and injured in the same area. Two blocks down, Yale medical student Mila Rainoff was fatally struck last year while crossing at York Street, prompting an outcry for safety upgrades and giving birth to a grassroots New Haven Safe Streets Coalition that promotes issues about pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

“All these people are trying to get on the highway. People are getting off the highway. They’re all trying to accelerate to speeds of 65 mph,” said Aaron Cook, a public health student at Yale. Meanwhile, pedestrians are trying to get to and from the Yale medical district and downtown.

“Think about it. If you put two and two together,” he said. “You have people in a hurry. They’re getting off the highway. They’re getting on the highway at very high speeds. You have students who are trying to get to class at all hours of the day, whether it be dark, snow, rainy, whatever. You put those two things together and make it difficult to see when you should and should not be crossing the street.

“This is a death zone.”

Visit to get involved in the campaign for a safer New Haven. Enough is enough!

Update: The man who was hit died from his injuries a few days later…