Gender and Violence in Haiti: Women's Path from Victims to Agents

Gender and Violence in Haiti: Women's Path from Victims to Agents

Gender and Violence in Haiti: Women's Path from Victims to Agents

Gender and Violence in Haiti: Women's Path from Victims to Agents


Women in Haiti are frequent victims of sexual violence and armed assault. Yet an astonishing proportion of these victims also act as perpetrators of violent crime, often as part of armed groups. Award-winning legal scholar Benedetta Faedi Duramy visited Haiti to discover what causes these women to act in such destructive ways and what might be done to stop this tragic cycle of violence.

Gender and Violence in Haiti is the product of more than a year of extensive firsthand observations and interviews with the women who have been caught up in the widespread violence plaguing Haiti. Drawing from the experiences of a diverse group of Haitian women, Faedi Duramy finds that both the victims and perpetrators of violence share a common sense of anger and desperation. Untangling the many factors that cause these women to commit violence, from self-defense to revenge, she identifies concrete measures that can lead them to feel vindicated and protected by their communities.

Faedi Duramy vividly conveys the horrifying conditions pervading Haiti, even before the 2010 earthquake. But Gender and Violence in Haiti also carries a message of hope--and shows what local authorities and international relief agencies can do to help the women of Haiti.


Current scholarship as well as international policy studies focusing on civil conflicts and armed violence have construed women as victims and men as perpetrators of violence. This prevalent interpretation tells part of the story, but it leaves out an equally important dimension: women as participants in violence and men occasionally as victims. This book joins the emerging effort to highlight limitations in the conventional wisdom and to enlarge understandings of why women engage in violence. To that end, this study focuses in particular on women and girls in the slum communities of Haiti. It explores the nexus between their prior victimization by sexual abuse and their subsequent decision to join armed factions. This research is informed by other studies addressing the relationship between violence against women and women’s participation in violence in several countries torn apart by civil or military conflicts. This book, however, provides the first empirical analysis of Haiti’s high prevalence of sexual violence and female involvement in armed violence.

Specifically, this study aims at shedding light on girls’ and women’s internalization of gender stereotypes and their experience of violence, which engenders common patterns of retaliation. It investigates the incentives, conditions, and decision-making processes that motivate victims of rape and sexual abuse to join armed groups and to become actively affiliated with and perpetrators of violence. By investigating the current international legal norms for and Haitian legislation on both female victimization and female aggression, this analysis aims at contributing to the . . .

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