Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday Sister.

This week's Sunday Sister is dedicated to three remarkable women who were devastatingly killed in the Haiti earthquakes. Myriam Merlet, Magalie Marcelin and Anne Marie Coriolan were prominant Haitian feminists who took on 'a legal and social system which, in Marcelin's words, treat women's bodies as commodities'. These women fought relentlestly to bring about awareness and change in a country that uses sexual assault against women as a means of control and oppression. They and the organisations they worked with were instrumental in establishing , in 2005, the country's first law criminalising rape.

Myriam Merlet 1957-2010
Myriam Merlet was Chief of Staff of the Haitian Ministry of Women’s Affairs and outspoken feminist who helped draw international attention to the use of rape as a political weapon. She worked to raise the profile of women in Haiti and abroad, founding the organisation Enfofamn and campaigning for several Haitian streets to be named after women. In 2001 she was instrumental in bringing The Vagina Monologues to the island.

Magalie Marcelin
Marcelin was an actress and lawyer who founded Kay Famn, a women’s rights organization that provides shelter and offers micro loan services to survivors of domestic violence. Marcelin was passionate in her work as an advocate, calling attention to the inequality and prejudice that women face daily in her community. In public awareness-raising campaigns, stickers are marked with the image of a drum, which Marcelin once explained:
“It’s very symbolic in the Haitian cultural imagination. The sound of the drum is the sound of freedom, it’s the sound of slaves breaking with slavery.”

Ann Marie Coriolan 
Ciriolan served as a top adviser to Haiti’s Ministry for Gender and the Rights of Women and founded advocacy organisation Solidarite Fanm Ayisyen (Solidarity with Haitian Women SOFA). As a political organiser, Coriolan was a leader in a movement that “helped bring rape…to the forefront of Haitian courts,” according to CNN. Before her efforts, and those of fellow women's activists, rape was regarded only as a “crime of passion” in Haiti. Coriolan’s daughter, Wani Thelusmon Coriolan, said of her mother: 
“She loved her country. She never stopped believing in Haiti. She said that when you have a dream you have to fight for it. She wanted women to have equal rights. She wanted women to hold their heads high.”


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