September 24, 2014, Haiti
Today was a historic day for Haiti and for the groups in the One Billion Rising for Revolution movement in and outside Haiti. We hosted The Vagina Monologues in Kreyol and French by the talented performance group Theatre Atelier Ecolosion, led by Florence Jean-Louis and the superstar actors Cynthia Jean-Louis and Ange Bellie Andou — great talents and sexy performers — and also Fabienne Colimon, et Huguette Saint Fleur. Eve Ensler was the special guest of this event hosted by Senators from the Parliament and joined by Deputys. We had a packed house, and a very appreciative audience. For many, it was the first time they had heard such positive, open discussions of women’s sexuality and desire, and it was a most welcome one. The men of the Parliament warmly embraced the play, the themes and the cause of the One Billion Rising Revolution, and have proclaimed themselves strong allies ready to do their part.
Post performance, we discussed Haiti’s next steps including the need for Parliament to vote on a pending legal reform of laws on domestic violence that is very important. Given that Haiti has a planned election soon, the issue of voting on the Draft Violence Against Women (VAW) law is viewed as a priority for the feminist and sexual violence movements. So the engagement of male leaders of Parliament as well as female leaders is crucial.
The draft VAW bill proposes to include violence committed in the family and household, provides a modern definition of rape, including marital rape, and would establish a special Court of Violence Against Women. It would also define CONSENT, a major issue in cases of statuatory rape for older teens.
The draft bill would also protect against discriination based on sexual orientation, would criminalise stalking and sexual harassment, and — very importantly also — would legalize abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy if the mother’s health is in danger.
Haiitan feminists are seeking a complete decriminalization of abortion, not only this partial approach, and a sit-in has been planned for Sept. 26 by the group IDEH and SOFA. IDEH just completed an important study of abortion and hopes to push for action on the draft law and the vote in the coming period leading up to the elections.
Tomorrow Eve Ensler and I meet with 25 women candidates in the elections who are hoping to promote a feminist platform within their parties and to push for gender equity within the platforms of their parties and in their own races for municipal offices, as mayors and other representatives of government. We are excited to help support these women to bring the revolution further forward.
Today was a historic day in the Haitian Parliament. The male MPs have identified themeselves as Men of the Vagina, as V-Men like the men in the Congo who are stepping forward as male allies to lead the sexual violence movement.
It’s been a great day.
I have to share public congratulations to the director and actors of Theatre Atelier Ecolsion and my colleague in PotoFanm+Fi including Soeurette Policar, Ficeline and Sadrack Rateau, for their hard work to make this exciting event happen. Many hands were behind it, including Nadine Anilus and Yolette Mengual of Rezo Fanm Kapab (the Network of Capable Women), and more colleagues.
Looking ahead, we’re now planning a major open-air presentation of the Monologues (Pawol Chouchoun in Kreyol) next February 14, along with performances and new work by a range of Haitian artists, backed by the Haitian government and with private sector sponsors. The mood in the Parliament today was excited, positive and determined to support the revolution for equality in Haiti, and for respect and love of women.