Haitian Women Must Step up in Wake of Fallen Feminists
A lot has changed for women in Haiti in the past 15 years. Whereas in the past rape could be used as a manipulative, disciplinary device, it is...
A lot has changed for women in Haiti in the past 15 years. Whereas in the past rape could be used as a manipulative, disciplinary device, it is now a crime punishable by law. Domestic abuse is no longer as acceptable and prevalent in Haitian homes, and those women who do suffer at the hands of their significant others now have safe house options available. Myriam Merlet, Magalie Marchelin, and Anne Marie Coriolan were three well-known feminist activists, each pushing for women's rights like those listed above and each making an effort to better conditions for women in Haiti-each died in last month's earthquake.A recent piece on The Daily Beast praises the three women's influential voices and bold strides made in the women's rights movement, citing their contributions as inspiration for Haitian women to inherit their efforts. Merlet, Machelin, and Coriolan were key players in the establishment of the Ministry of Women's Affairs and Rights in 1994 (and each eventually served) as well as the Advocacy on Women's Rights, a national platform for feminist organizations.In the wake of the devastating earthquake, Haitian women have the opportunity to take a cue from the three fallen feminists and work to position themselves at the forefront of the reconstruction and restoration efforts to ensure that their needs are addressed. The Daily Beast mentions reproductive health care and education for girls as being critical issues for women to resolve. One can only hope that in the coming months and years that the women of Haiti can invoke the spirits of the great feminist voices of Merlet, Machelin, and Coriolan to make necessary changes.Photo (cc) by Flickr user treesftf