By Fabienne Colas
Haiti is known for many things; for its food, its music, its art and its people, who stay continuously resilient in the face of political and socioeconomic turmoil. However one aspect of Haitian culture that is kept in the shadows, is the misogynic ideals that are interwoven in the culture, and rears itself in various forms of abuse against women.
In Haiti, women are seen as the pillars of their families and communities; however this perception does not necessarily save them from the reaches of physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse. With the premiere of the Caribbean adaptation of Vagina Monologues on Oct. 22 in Brooklyn, I felt it was particularly fitting to address the taboo topic of domestic violence in the community and tie it in to Domestic Violence Awareness month, in the hopes that all women will feel comfort in knowing they are not alone, and that there are people and resources devoted to fighting this problem.
A significant number of violence against women cases are those between intimate partners. Global prevalence figures indicate about 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence at the hands of a spouse or boyfriend.
In fact, U.S. national figures shows that 4million women experience physical assault and rape by their partner, while in 1out of 3 female homicide cases, involve women who are killed by a family member or intimate partner.
Despite these numbers, domestic violence incidents are still under-reported.
Pawòl Chouchoun — The Vagina Monologues in Haitian version (60% French & 40% Creole) adapted by Florence Jean-Louis Dupuy — serves as a forum to empower women while also talking about abuse, which is an issue that many communities overlook.
The play is made up of a varying number of monologues read by a five Haitian actresses from all ages. Each of the monologues deals with an aspect of the feminine experience, touching on matters such as sex, love, orgasm, menstruation, female genital mutilation, rape, masturbation, birth, the various common names for the vagina in Haiti and way more.
A recurring theme throughout the piece is the vagina as a tool of female empowerment, and the ultimate embodiment of individuality.
The show – part of Haiti en Folie Festival NYC – is a powerful tool for sharing emotions and raising awareness. It is my hope that we reach at least one woman in the community, who will be inspired to seek help after attending Pawòl Chouchoun at 7PM on Saturday, October 22, at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts.
More info and tickets can be found on the Festival website at www.haitienfolie.com