Times-Picayune (New Orleans) (05.28.12) - Tuesday, May 29,
Early Friday, the complex housing the offices of Women With a
Vision (WWV) was ransacked and set on fire. WWV Executive
Director Deon Haywood suspects arson; the matter is still
under investigation by local police and fire departments.
Small fires were set in at least four different areas of WWV's
offices, and the contents of its outreach office were a near-
total loss. Haywood said that office contained "the heart of
everything we use to educate the community," and makes the act
The education- and prevention-related supplies lost include
male and female condoms, HIV test kits, and anatomical models
used to provide instruction on reproductive health.
WWV uses advocacy, health education, support services, and
community-based participatory research "to improve the lives
of marginalized women, their families, and communities by
addressing the social conditions that hinder their health and
well-being." WWV focuses on women and the transgendered; it
performs no medical procedures besides HIV testing. Its
clientele includes the poor, homeless, sex trade workers, and
previously incarcerated persons.
Haywood has gained notoriety advocating for comprehensive sex
education and rehabilitation programs for former prisoners,
and against criminalization of people with HIV/AIDS. WWV may
be most widely known for championing the fight against
Louisiana's "crimes against nature law" requiring those
convicted of selling oral or anal sex to register as sex
offenders. The law was ruled unconstitutional by a federal
judge March 29.
"I feel strongly the fire had to do with our work or my
voice," said Haywood. "Our clients are not just numbers. They
are family. We take care of one another," said Haywood,
promising not to "stop speaking out about injustice. We'll