Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self

Here are two of the Queens of Haiti who walk in the footsteps of Queen Anacaona:

Yvonne Hakim Rimpel
Feminist, Journalist

Born in Port-au-Prince in 1906, Rimpel was a founder of the first Haitian feminist organization, the Women’s League for Social Action. It was founded in 1934 by a group of women intellectuals, professionals and activists from the middle and upper classes, and played an important role in politics for the next 25 years, focusing mainly on legal rights: suffrage, access to education, violence against women  and equality for married women. In 1951, she founded Escale, a bi-weekly news revue, and for six years she was its director, driving force and main editor.

The Constitution of 1950 gave women a limited right to vote (with their husbands’ permission), but it was not until 1957 that they obtained full equal suffrage.

Queen Rimpel supported Louis Déjoie in the presidential election that year and was an active participant in the electoral campaign. When François Duvalier emerged as winner, she criticized the  manipulative engineering of his victory.

On the night of January  5th 1958, the vicious dictator Duvalier sent a group of masked men to Rimpel’s house. They dragged her off into the night. The next morning she was found lying naked in a street in Petionville, beaten unconscious, covered in blood, and probably raped. After two months in hospital, she recovered, but she never wrote again. She maintained her silence until her death in June 1986.

Marie Chauvet
Novelist

The best known and most prolific of Haiti’s female novelists, Marie Chauvet was born in Port-au-Prince in 1917. Her first novel, Fille D’Haiti (1953), about the mulatto daughter of a prostitute who tries to escape her origins in the hypocritical world of the Haitian elite, was awarded the Prix de l’Alliance Francaise. La Danse sur le Volcan (1957), depicting the events leading up to the Haitian Revolution, was translated into English and Dutch.

Chauvet’s most famous work, the trilogy of novellas, Amour, Colere et Folie, was published in Paris in 1968. The author was unable to return to Haiti from France because the novel dealt with the behavior of corrupt Duvalierist officials and the sadistic Tontons Macoutes. Her husband begged her not to publish it, and when she did over his objections, he not only left her, but also bought and destroyed all the copies of the book sent to Haiti. She died in exile in New York in 1975, and was only awarded national honors after the end of the Duvalier dictatorship. Amour, Colere et Folie was released in English in 2009. 

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The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

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