Is Rape an integral part of Haitian culture?

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Is Rape an integral part of Haitian culture?

Post by » Tue Jun 22, 2004 6:19 pm

[quote]
These accusations of rape, leveled against "Aristide people" or "chimeres" by the new thieves in charge of the country are offensive to me. Not because they are untrue, they are not, but because they are equally true of each and every group of men in the country!

For the right wing to accuse "Aristide people" or "chimeres" of rape is nothing but filthy hypocrisy, and for the "Aristide people" to accuse the right wing is the same filthy hypocrisy. Rape is used constantly in Haiti as a terror tactic against women and girls, it doesn't matter if the motive is political or economic or simply the desire to keep women "in their place", and it's not as though any one group of men is more guilty than any other.

Just a month or two ago here in Jacmel, a woman who lives in my neighborhood was walking home from town in the evening - she is a "fritay" vendor and she sells fritay in the crossroads at night. Two policemen came along in a pickup truck and said to her, "You shouldn't be out at this time of night, it's not safe, jump in and we will take you home." The grateful woman hopped aboard, and the two policemen raped her. The woman knows perfectly well that she will get no help from the police if she reports the crime, in fact they might even arrest her on the pretext of "false accusation" so that they can lock her up and gang rape her in the police station.

I myself have been threatened with rape dozens of times, by rural men who are offended that I raise, saddle and ride my own horses, defend my pastures, rule my household and my peristyle, make my own money and choose my own company. They view me the same way racist white Americans of bygone years might have viewed an "uppity nigger", and to them rape is the ideal means by which to "put me in my role". Needles to say, when I take care of my animals or ride my horses I carry my machete and bring my dog along.

Last week I went to Kabik beach as I do twice a week, formerly without incident. That beach is where I do my La Sirene drum ceremonies, and I give away significant quantities of food there. Most of the residents are very friendly and helpful to me, and I've never had a problem. But last week a group of twenty-five young Haitian men threatened me with gang-rape if I did not "give them money to use the beach". I actually had to break a Coke bottle and threaten to slice the face of the first man who came one step closer, and thus, assisted by my snarling dog, I managed to hold them at bay until some of my friends came running. I reported this to the police, who responded, "Well, it's not their fault if they love you."

I note that white foreign women used not to be so very often threatened, but nowadays, thanks to the Aristide camp's anti-white hate propaganda, that has changed - the young men who threatened me accused me of being a "colonialist", and apparently believed that I held the keys to the bank vault containing the "French slavery reparation money".

Gang rape of majority-class Haitian women in poor neighborhoods is rampant, and very young girls especially are targeted. Once they have their first menstrual period (or even before!) the attitude is that they have no right to refuse men the use of their vaginas.

The reason for all of this is that here in Haiti, men consider women property and women consider their vaginas their "capital goods". Raping a woman is like stealing a man's cows, it's taking possession of a *thing* without paying. The fact that the victim of rape is a person and not a thing is not part of the equation. The equation of "woman = vagina" is firmly entrenched in people's minds. When a man curses a woman, the first word is inevitably "whore" (bouzen, penda). When a woman curses a woman, the first word is inevitably "cold pussy" (koko fret) or "stinky pussy" (koko santi), and women determine their worth by the number of men who desire their vagina.

Women here, to their eternal shame, do not band together against rape. Instead they jeer at, humiliate and mock rape victims! A woman who is angry at another woman may incite male family members to rape her enemy.

Meanwhile, rapists do not hide their crimes, they brag about it! My own assistant animal keeper once bragged, *to me*, of how he raped a woman to whom he loaned 500 gourdes, as part of the "payment". He thought I would be proud of him, because he was a "real man", he didn't let any woman get the better of him.

Likewise beatings - men sit around in the afternoon in the shade, reminiscing about women they have beaten, and how much fun it was. A man who does not beat his women regularly is not a real man. And let's say a man owns three women - today he beats woman #1. Woman #2 and woman #3 go to the victim's house, swear and curse at her, mock her, make nasty remarks about her vagina, even destroy her property if they can. The idea of women working together to protect each other is not just unheard of, it is anathema.

Children likewise are considered property, not people, and raping an adult's child is just one more way of destroying the adult's property.

About a year ago a Houngan here in Jacmel was arrested, and here is why:

This Houngan, who has a lawfully married wife and any number of sexual receptacles among his hounsis, and who is undoubtedly HIV+, found a little girl with her mother, selling food at the bus station. He bought sexual access to the little girl, who was not yet twelve years old, from her own mother! He promised the child's mother 300 gourdes to be allowed to rape the child twice. The mother did not feel that she was doing anything wrong, after all, the child is her property and she is using her property to generate income.

The Houngan did indeed rape the child twice, with her mother's consent. Then the Houngan went his way, and refused to pay. The mother took her bleeding daughter to the police, who arrested the Houngan and charged him not with rape but with refusal to pay a bill! He was released a few hours later, and he neither paid a gourde nor was punished in any way. The police laughed scornfully at the child's mother, saying that she should have insisted on being paid in advance. That Houngan's name is Ti-George, and he lives in the St. Helene's neighborhood of Jacmel. Now the mother is mocked by her neighbors for having been duped, while the Houngan is considered... you guessed it... a "real man".

This country is sick, sick, SICK! And no amount of intervention is going to change it. It won't change until Haitians want to change, but they don't - every Haitian thinks his fists are bigger than the other guy's fists, every Haitian woman thinks her vagina is more attractive than all other women's vaginas, and that she is better defended by her family or her powerful friends against rape and violence than other women, and thus men who desire her must pay money, and thus she is worth more.

The fact is that Haitian men are raised to be rapists, and rewarded for rape. So please, let's not have any more accusations of rape leveled by one group of men against another.

Peace and love,

Bon Mambo Racine Sans Bout Sa Te La Daginen[/quote]

[quote]
I and any other non-Haitian in Haiti or outside of Haiti has every right to criticize anything and everything that we find offensive, counterproductive, unsafe, or unhealthy about Haitian culture, or American culture, or Iraqi culture, or Canadian culture! It is not merely a right, it is a duty to identify and work to correct social and cultural flaws wherever they are found.

Haitian political activists in the United States are certainly some of the most vociferous critics of the US and it's government, especially when it comes to immigration policy. I vividly remember providing simultaneous interpretation for one immigration advocacy group which demonstrated outside the INS office in Boston, and I recall speaker after speaker insisting stridently, "We have a right to be in this country!" Despite the fact that I do not agree with that statement, I translated faithfully - the illegal aliens pleading for immigration amnesty might not have a right to be in the USA, but they certainly have a right to say what they think whenever and wherever they choose, and to work to effect such changes in US law as they feel may be beneficial to them! Who would suggest otherwise?

Likewise, I have a right to identify, decry, condemn and work to eradicate RAPE, in Haiti where I live, or anywhere else. This does not "degrade Haitians". It doesn't "degrade" anyone, actually, but hypothetically, if identification and condemnation of rape "degrades" anyone it degrades *men*, and "men" do not stand equivalently for "Haitians" - half of Haitians are WOMEN. And it is Haitian women who are, of course, the victims of RAPE by Haitian men.

The Haitian man whose cow I have just taken to the CASEC for about the twentieth time, since he persists in tying it in my pasture to steal my grass, does not threaten to ill-treat my cows in revenge, he threatens me with RAPE. The CASEC makes him pay a fine, and since I have cost him money, in his mind he should take sex from me to even the score. He would do it, too, if he found me alone and unarmed. The Haitian bus driver who is angry because I know the correct fare from Port-au-Prince to Jacmel and refuse to pay more, does not threaten me with a broken leg, he threatens me with RAPE. "Map kwenyen ou!", he bellows, not "Map kase pye ou!"

The Haitian men who I have witnessed coming out to intimidate the precious few women's rights marches held in Port-au-Prince do not threaten the Haitian women participants with lawsuits, they threaten them with RAPE. The Haitian man I witnessed on one of my very first trips to Haiti, at the Port-au-Prince airport, who wanted a standby seat on the next flight out did not threaten the Jamaican woman who also was competing for that seat with the theft of her luggage, he screamed a threat of RAPE. Haitian writer and journalist Yvonne Hakim-Rimpel, victim of Francois Duvalier's repression, was punished for saying that the Haitian flag is blue and red, not with a monetary fine but with RAPE. Another Haitian journalist, Lilianne Pierre-Paul, arrested and incarcerated by the Haitian Army, did not become pregnant in prison as a result of a passionate consensual affair, she became pregnant through RAPE. The group of young Haitian men on Kabik beach a few weeks ago who decided to shake me down for money did not threaten to slash my tires, they threatened me with RAPE. My own employee, the Haitian man who helps me with my livestock, bragged to me that he revenged himself on a woman who owed him some money, not by stabbing or kicking her or destroying her property, but through RAPE.

And what is all this nonsense about "racism"? Any time a black person is criticized, it's "racism"? I have not suggested that Haitian men are committing rape because they are black! Those who commit rape do so because they are culturally encouraged to do so, and because they are not punished when they do so. Period. Throwing a pile of nationalist and racist dust in the air is not going to change this fact - did some of you actually read the newspaper report that started this thread, about the pro-Aristide rapists who used rape to terrorize political opponents? Do you remember the precisely similar, though rather more widespread, anti-Aristide rape campaign of 1993?

And let's please get it straight that it is not misanthropic little Mambo Racine who has suddenly started spouting accusations! Rape as a terror tactic in Haiti is documented by various UN organizations, by the International Organization for Migration, by Medecins du Monde, by the NCHR, by journalists, by SOFA and other Haitian women's groups, by more organizations and individuals than I can list.

Why should I not speak out on this topic? More to the point, *how* can I not speak out on this topic? It's in my own best interest, aside from the imperatives of my conscience. So far, I personally have managed to avoid victimization. But if tomorrow some filthy excuse for a human being should succeed in brutalizing me, who do you think is going to do anything about it? The Haitian police? HAH! Let me tell you something - about a month ago, a pickpocket in the Jacmel market sliced open my hand and the hand of a Haitian woman with a razor blade. We both went to the police, dripping blood, and the police didn't even want to be bothered to arrest the thief! They had to be browbeaten into arresting him, and while I was in the police station, a detective apostrophized me with, "You are a Mambo? Turn me into a little cow now, so that I can do 'ti bef' (oral sex!) for you." The police, who are mostly Haitian men and who share the same sexist and aggressive attitudes toward women, would be absolutely delighted to know that some rapist had managed to beat and overpower me and use me for his garbage pail. "He loves you, that's why he screwed you, why are you upset, he didn't really hurt you, what's the problem?", that's what they say to rape victims here. The judges? HAH! Even if they were disposed to act, what law is there on the books that will protect me?

Rape, per se, isn't even criminalized here, remember that part of the discussion? A "crime against honor" is a bunch of B-S. All your rapist has to say is, "Well, she wanted to" and your case is finished, the judge will tell you that there were no witnesses and he can't take your word over that of your brutalizer. Your medical certificate, if you can get one and if you can afford to pay for one, will be discounted on the grounds that you have a boyfriend or a husband, and thus you might have just had sex with him, and not been raped at all. There isn't any DNA testing lab here, and even if there were, so what? You were asking for it, you wanted it.

All of this assumes that you have the gumption, the mentality, and the money to even bring your case to court! In the vast and overwhelming majority of cases, men who sexually assault women here never even see a police officer, much less a judge.

Tell me what you will, the situation in the USA, though far, far from perfect, is not quite so sick. Yes, I said SICK. Some cultures are healthier than others! Why should we be afraid to acknowledge this simple fact? I thought we went over this ground before - healthier, superior cultures afford their members longer lives, better physical health, a non-violent manner of choosing leaders and spokespeople, equitable economic access, equitable access to education, promotion of creativity. Sick, inferior cultures afford their members shorter lives, worse health, violence in connection with government, restricted economic access, deprivation of information and education, and little support for creativity.

Note that in all of this, I have not said, "All Haitian men are rapists" or "Haitian men are rapists because they are black" or "No American men ever commit rape". The women's liberation movement is the reason why things in the USA are not quite so horrible as they used to be, with regard to rape. That is to say, the women's liberation movement made American culture healthier, and superior to how it was before the women's liberation movement. With all this reactionary ranting about "oppressed groups", I wonder if some people remember that the single largest oppressed group on the face of Mother Earth is women! And I also am a woman, so if I needed any justification for speaking out I've got plenty. To some of the people on this forum, if a black man is angry and outspoken about racism he's a hero, but if a woman is angry and outspoken about sexism including RAPE, she's a racist witch, apparently.

I also wonder if some people realize that denial is not a river in Africa! Denial kills people. Right now in my own congregation I have one member recently dead of AIDS and another with one foot in the grave, but say the word, "SIDA" and right away everyone starts shaking their heads no. No, Mambo Simone didn't have SIDA, it was a djab that killed her. The father of her child, who used to beat her and who knocked out one of her front teeth, who died within weeks of her? No, he didn't have SIDA, he died of a cough. No, Houngan Jean her boyfriend, who beats all his girlfriends when Mambo Racine isn't around, doesn't have SIDA, he's skinny and covered with zona because he has... well, we don't know what sickness he has, but it isn't SIDA, that blood test lied! His two maman petits in Port-au-Prince are both sick, his two children there are at death's door, but that blood test lied!

What do you think rapists do, do you think they put on a condom before they brutalize women? Rape transmits AIDS. Gang rape, for which women in crowded low-income neighborhoods are particularly at risk (though goodness knows it happens often enough right here in the rural hamlets of Jacmel), transmits AIDS to women and to men alike, not that I feel very sorry for a rapist who contracts AIDS while raping someone. But he will give it to his next victim and his next, and to the men who together with him victimize some helpless woman in the next gang bang they enjoy. Because of AIDS, all rape should be treated as attempted murder!

(...) look where that foul and evil man, the one who with his son sexually abused the little "restavek" girl in Florida, look where he went when he got discovered - to Haiti! He didn't go there because he thinks he's more likely to be arrested in Haiti, he went there because he expects impunity for sexual assault.

(...) it is pointless to preach respect and non-violence to a still-mostly-illiterate population, while simultaneously demonstrating to them that power and wealth in Haiti are obtained through violence and failure to respect social norms! Who voted for ol' Boniface, after all? Did anyone see his name on a ballot? If I missed something, I'd sure like to know.

Hmmph. That's all for now, I have an Ogoun dance tonight and I have to put on my whites.

Peace and love,
Bon Mambo
Racine Sans Bout Sa Te La Daginen[/quote]

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Response to Mambo Racine

Post by admin » Wed Jun 23, 2004 11:13 am

The body of anecdotal evidence that you present is indeed considerable. However, I am afraid that you somehow missed the point made generally by a lot of the people on this forum. Let me add that I also concur with many of them, at least in the expression of the following thought: In your original post, you clearly exaggerated a bad situation and you impeached an entire culture through overstatement and excessive generalization.

Now, who in their right mind, would claim that rape never takes place in Haiti? Which sane person would claim that sexual violence is never a problem in Haiti cherie? Who would dare say that you are making those things up? So, I don't think it's quite necessary to cite more anecdotes of rape (however factual) to make this valid point: Sexual and domestic violence is a very serious problem in Haitian society, and our successive administrations have not seriously addressed the issue of voting and enforcing laws against such reprehensible behavior.

Let me recall some of your overstatements, so perhaps you might begin to see the real point of our objections, which in no way was a denial that there is a problem of violence in Haiti (in many forms other than rape) :

- "every Haitian thinks his fists are bigger than the other guy's fists,"

- "every Haitian woman thinks her vagina is more attractive than all other women's vaginas,"

- "The fact is that Haitian men are raised to be rapists, and rewarded for rape."

Don't you think that is overreaching? If we grant that your "every Haitian" is rhetorical (you have not clearly conceded that), would you then care to guess what percentage of Haitian men and women is covered by your "every's"? Are you talking of the overwhelming majority of Haitian men and women, a simple majority, a substantial minority or just "a heck of a lot"? I think you have a background in the social sciences, and surely you must understand that some form of quantification is important when describing any serious problem in a culture or society. When you are dealing with a population of eight million people, surely ANY amount of anecdotal evidence you can amass will not prove your conclusions one way or the other.

Perhaps you have closed your mind to every decent man in Haitian society. You may not see them at all. That does not mean however that they do not exist or that they are not even in the majority.

The strongest point that you make however is that legal enforcement works extremely poorly in Haiti and that situation is conducive to an abnormal level of criminality in ANY society. We do have a long standing tradition of impunity in Haiti, and the reasons for that are both political and historical. When you do look at the historical reasons, a reasonable person would conclude that the French, the Spanish, the British, and the Americans are far more responsible for a legacy of rape in Haiti and the Caribbean, than our African culture. Don't get me wrong, I am not advocating that any perpetrator of rape should go unpunished. Quite the contrary!

However, when you unilaterally blame our "inferior" culture, that is quite an evasion of all historical responsibility. You exhibit a very narrow view of culture. It's like the world started overnight and African men just happen to be in Haiti, happily raping their women, like Bonobo monkeys.

That's exactly what you make Haitians sound like: Bonobo monkeys! And I am certain there are people who are grinning and thinking: "Way to go, Mambo Racine... tell those sub-humans exactly what we think of them! We couldn't say it using our real identity, but you're doing a fine job for us!"

In all likelihood, some of those people reside in the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Others are Protestant missionaries, preaching the gospel with USAID dollars. So many of them really think that Haitians are inferior and they must be happy to read about your characterizations of Haitian culture.

You also said that no intervention is going to change Haitian society for the better. You are absolutely right on that score! There have been many cases of U.S. soldiers raping Haitian women as well. Just as they have raped Vietnamese women, Afghan women, Iraqi women, etc. Yet, I would never make such a blatantly unfair statement as "every American soldier is a rapist, every American soldier is a torturer". Of course, I could present a substantial body of anecdotal evidence gathered at the Abu Ghraib prison alone!

If I were willing to engage in this, I could match each one of your stories with a story of American abuse. But in the end, what would I have proven on a qualitative basis? That American soldiers are just as worthless as "every Haitian" that you describe? And then, would we move on to the French, the British, the Belgians, etc?

The bottom line is that Haitians must break the back of a 200 year-old record of impunity, which they assimilated from their former masters. The historical record leaves no doubt in that regard. The responsibility for correcting those faults is ours. The French, the Americans, and the Canadians cannot, will not do it for us. USAID will not do it for us. Missionaries will not. Hougans and Mambos will not. Churches and peristyles will not. The all-powerful U.S. Marines will not. Foreign do-gooders (especially the prejudiced sort) will not.

Haitian society will not change until Haitians themselves are determined to change it (In that I fully agree with you).

One thing that I do know: This will not happen until we see the value of building each other up, for the sake of "THE HAITIAN" instead of spending so much energy smearing each other for all sorts of baseless and ridiculous reasons.

HOW will this happen? That is the only question truly worth debating between Haitians. We value other people's input, but it means diddly squat until we turn INWARDS like the Amish and begin to do the job ourselves.

Is this just rhetoric? No, the general feeling was there before, not too long ago. They just shot the hell out of it.

We just have to get back on track, only wiser this time around.

Guy Antoine
Windows on Haiti
http://haitiforever.com


Mambo Racine responded:

Code: Select all

Overreaching? No, that is what I have been saying! Rape is not an individual problem, any more than domestic violence is a problems strictly between two domestic partners. It's culture-wide, and it can only be solved by a culture-wide movement comparable to the American feminist movement.

Of COURSE men are raised to be rapists here! Many of the little dirty jokes told in the lakou in the evening have as the punch line a rape. And usually, in these jokes, the rapist is unpunished and the victim "likes it".

Of COURSE men are raised to be rapists here! If they succeed in gang-raping as adolescents, and are not punished, what do you think they do as adult men? And the women and girls who are their victims are hooted at and jeered in their own neighborhoods, if their victimization becomes known.

Of COURSE men are raised to be rapists here! "Ou se gason, ou fe sa ou vle", you are male, you do what you want, is dinned into the ears of little boys from the time they can understand spoken language.

YOU are the one talking about "monkeys", and that is race-baiting. I am not responsible for the behavior of rapists, and if you think accurate descriptions of rape make rapists sound like "bonobo monkeys", that is your description and your assessment. I think that fair and honest descriptions of the behavior of men here makes them sound like CRIMINALS, not monkeys.

Discounting, distorting and disregarding WOMEN's words about RAPE is common enough, I am not surprised to see it happening here. But setting up straw men and "bonobo monkeys" does not change the reality of women's lives in Haiti.

Sincerely,
Bon Mambo Racine Sans Bout Sa Te La Daginen

JustinFelux

Post by JustinFelux » Wed Jun 23, 2004 2:35 pm

Very eloquent and well-put, Guy.

Leonel JB

Post by Leonel JB » Tue Jun 29, 2004 5:49 am

Although Mambo Racine was too explicit and general, I agree with a lot of what she stated.

I wish that I could be "live" then I could have made my points clearer.

I had lived in Haiti from birth til 20 years of age. I had lived in P-a-P from birth until I had moved to the US in 82. Well, guys we really have more problems in term of sexual violence or behavior.

That term "SE GASON OU YE", I've heard it so many times. That makes it acceptable in Haiti cause there is no rules of law and the education sexual is non existent. For instance, you would be considered as a "KOYO" if you gave a ride to a girl/woman without going to Boutilliers or any Makrel with her...You would be considered a KOYO if a girl/woman came to your room without any sexual act. And,guess what for those 2 incidents, if rape is reported, mostly everyone would question the girl's willingness to go in the car or the bedroom.

Even though the world is a SE
XIST WORLD. But in countries where education level is very low, it is even worse.

I remember in my teenage years, gang rape was frequent and forgotten, unless the girl involved is "pitit chef".

Restavec, Bonne, employees etc etc, are all rape victim candidates. Now what about the instigators? Well, Macoute, gendarme, professeur, pretre, pasteur, politicien etc etc.
Our culture is very misogyneous, our songs sometimes devalue women etc. Take our musical groups: Coupe Cloue etc, The Carnaval's songs, wow the list goes on.

This can really take a very long time people.

I think that Mambo Racine made it too general by frustration. But, myself, I am ashamed to admit that the problem is very very deep in Haiti.

Bref, it does not matter if a girl is 12 or 15, as long as she has pubic hair, it's fair game for the predators.

I know the truth is hard to swallow, but we have to tell it. It's ok to criticizing the US, France or any other countries for our problems. The same
way, I think it is ok to see our own problems.

THE TRUTH; NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH
With proper education, I think we can overcome this and a lot of other issues. Again, it is my own observations and opinions. One can comment further, I would apreciate it.

We can not close our eyes on something so humiliating and pretend it only happened once in a blue moon.

Leonel JB

Post by Leonel JB » Wed Jun 30, 2004 5:26 am

Marilyn, you are right.

Thanks for your kind reply. I have close relationship with people working with the Haitian community in the US (don't want to be specific) but let me tell you,there have been some horrific stories in term of sexual abuses. I have known about step dads molesting 9, 10, 12, 16 year old girls for long time with the mother's inability to react. Even though other family members knew about the act,they kept it secretly and sometimes blamed the victims.

Going back to sexual violence in Haiti, I remember taking ex-girlfriends wherever (hotel, isolated places etc). It was not acceptable for that person to say "NO" in any particular moment. I really feel sorry that I didn't know any better than. But today, I have heard from various group of men (friends) like Mambo Racine stated, we need help in this issue...

Again,it is good to have healthy dialogues and I really like this subject. Maybe this is the beginni
ng of a new society in Haiti where everyone right should be respected.

Sorry, I can not be more specific cause I am moving form one home to another, therefore I don't have the opportunity to write properly.

Self-respect, Love and Patriotism!

Caroline

Post by Caroline » Fri Jul 02, 2004 1:30 pm

Kathy,

I just don't think you realize how offensive your language is when you talk about Haitian culture and Haitians. Do you have an idea how ethnocentric your statements are? Really! Are you able to step back and read the things you write with a different eye? Remember, if you can, that you are coming from the United States into another people's culture and judging that culture and the people from your OWN standpoint? You say that you disagreed that the Haitians you interpreted for had "a right to be in this country!" and yet you never question your right to not only BE in Haiti but to analyze and judge the worth and *inferiority* of the culture. Do you not see this about yourself?

Amazing really... But look at a few of your own words (if you're interested in trying to understand why you've offended so many people).

[quote].... some filthy excuse for a human being[/quote]

[quote]The police, who are mostly Haitian men and who share the same sexist and aggressive attitudes toward women, would be absolutely delighted to know that some rapist had managed to beat and overpower me and use me for his garbage pail.[/quote]

[quote]All of this assumes that you have the gumption, the mentality, and the money to even bring your case to court![/quote]

[quote]Some cultures are healthier than others![/quote]

[quote]healthier, superior cultures[/quote]

[quote]Sick, inferior cultures[/quote]

[quote]if a black man is angry and outspoken about racism he's a hero, but if a woman is angry and outspoken about sexism including RAPE, she's a racist witch, apparently.[/quote]

[quote]I also wonder if some people realize that denial is not a river in Africa![/quote]

[quote]it is pointless to preach respect and non-violence to a still-mostly-illiterate population[/quote]

I wonder if you can read your own words and see how people would wonder what you are doing in Haiti at all, if not making a few bucks off the culture you obviously dispise. Its an 'inferior" culture after all, but apprently its good enough to make YOU a living. Just remember at your ceremonies, that the culture you are selling for profit is the same culture you consider inferior. The belief system you have borrowed was bought and paid for with the blood of the people of whom you speak so venomously. So, if you don't agree that the Haitians in the U.S. you spoke of had the right to be in this country, how is it you have the right to be where you are, talking the way you do, and selling the traditions of the people of Haiti with impunity?

I think you need to step back and take a look at your words and the real attitudes you are portraying. Some of the things you experience in Haiti may be due to some of your own attitudes. I have lived in Haiti and have never been treated the way you describe -- NEVER. But then, they didn't consider me a theif and an 'achte je.' Maybe you could try being a little respectful of the people off whose backs you are making a living.

Let me add that "literacy" is a western construct and it has NOTHING to do with a person's ability to understand respect and non violence!!

And one more note about rape and Haitian society. I asked my husband (born and raised in the Artibonite valley, and lived in Haiti until age 35) about rape. He said it is NOT common in his culture and looked down on. He also said that a rapist was sure to become the victim of vigilante justice. I asked him if he had any personal experience with this; if he'd ever known a case of someone in his community raping anyone. He said only once, when he was in his early 20s. One of the members of his community raped a young teenage girl. The family of the girl and the community gathered together, hunted the guy down, tied his feet and hands and threw him in the river. He died. The only other incident he knew of (other than Tonton macoutes) was a man from a nearby zone who raped someone. The people cut his penis off and put it on a stick and marched around a while.

That's what my husband remembers about growing up in Haiti and attitudes about rape. Of course, he thinks the statement that Haitian men are raised to rape and rewarded for it is completely ludicrous.

Caroline Henrius

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