“Not a Mouthpiece But a Megaphone: Haitian Women and Rape”

30 Apr

*Last week, we cross-posted a piece entitled ‘We Are Not Your Weapons. . .We Are Women’ a harrowing testimony of surviving rape from an American activist currently working in Haiti. While we stand in solidarity with the author, Amanda Kijera, she made some troubling assertions about the credibility of rape claims and the need to speak FOR Haitian women. We felt it necessary to write a Crunk Feminist Response.”

Dear Amanda,

We are extremely disheartened to know that you were raped. We are emboldened by your courage to speak out about this experience and to attempt to grapple so soon with the social and political implications of what you and other Haitian women have been enduring over the past few months. We stand in solidarity with you and with them, and declare unequivocally that the terrorizing of Haitian women through rape, lack of safe shelter, and lack of adequate resources must end.

It is also encouraging to know that you are looking for the positive outcomes in this experience, though we encourage you to take the time and space you need to heal.  The struggle will still be there, when you are ready to fight. We recognize that rape has been used as a tool of patriarchal terror throughout the world for centuries. We also recognize that Haiti has a marked history in this respect. Dictator Francois Duvalier enlisted the Tonton Macoutes, a government-supported militia to suppress Haitiains, and they often targeted women in an effort to stamp out dissidence and to reinforce women’s subordination. Nevertheless, Haitian women from all walks of life have, then and now, advocated and agitated for change. They have formed feminist organizations under threat of censure, rape, and murder. And while we are awed by their strength, we reject the notion of rape as a rite of passage or as an experience we should suppress in order to shield other injustices. Doing so reinscribes the same system that deem women’s bodies as weapons and commodities for trade, misuse, and abuse.

You noted in your letter that while you had initially been invested in rehabilitating embattled images of Black men, “it is the women who move you to write now.” We, too, are moved. Disturbed actually, by the pervasive patriarchal fallacy that makes so many women, particularly women of color, feel compelled to defend Black men, to love them, to save them, even when they won’t defend, love or save us. Like you, we know and affirm that most Black men aren’t violent rapists, and that they, too, have been victimized by the recent disasters in Haiti. Yet, we hope your article and this letter serve as a call to all men and women for a kind of courageous accountability, one that demands that we hold folks responsible, whoever they may be, for the kinds of damage and violence they do, psychic and/or physical.

Click here for the rest of our response posted by the good folks over at Race-Talk.

And here’s to sustaining courageous dialogues. . .

In Solidarity,


2 Responses to ““Not a Mouthpiece But a Megaphone: Haitian Women and Rape””

  1. Joylynn May 10, 2010 at 10:40 AM #

    What a precise analysis written in an elegant and even loving tone. Brilliant response. I love this blog.

    • susiemaye May 10, 2010 at 11:51 PM #

      Thanks for the love!

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