Haiti rape victim tell McClelland: I said “NO,” you had no right to speak of my story, I did not give you authorization (One of Haiti’s most famous writers relay message for the twice victimized victim)
by Edwidge Dandicat, July 8, 2010, Essence Magazine
(See also [ezilidanto] Ezili Dantò on IJDH’s the legal rep resentation of Haiti rape victims, erzilidanto, 07/10/2011)
At the risk of prolonging a contentious debate concerning this essay by Mother Jones magazine reporter Mac McClelland, I would like to add another voice to the conversation.
Earlier this year, I met the woman that Ms. McClelland has called both Sybille and K* in her writings.
I met her at a meeting for rape survivors in. She is a 25-year-old mother of three children. She has a beautiful singing voice and often sings in talent shows to inspire other rape survivors.
This incredibly brave and talented woman speaks Creole, French and Spanish. She learned Spanish while traveling betweenand the to buy grocery items, toiletries and non-perishables that she would then resell in Port-au-Prince.
She lost the father of her older children to illness before the earthquake and lost the father of her youngest child on January 2010, during the earthquake. She also lost her home, which is how she ended up living in the camp where she was raped.
In her essay, Ms. McClelland writes that K*’s trauma led in part to her own breakdown. Nevertheless, during Ms. McClelland’s ride along with K*, on a visit to a doctor, Ms. McClelland, as has been reported elsewhere, live-tweeted K*’s horrific experiences. The tweets put K*’s life in danger because they identified the displacement camp where K* was living–with details of landmarks added–her specific injury, her real name, and suggest that she is a drug user.
When K* found out about Ms. McClelland’s tweets, even before Ms. McClelland’s
original Mother Jones article was published, K* wrote a letter to Ms. McClelland and Mother Jones magazine asking that Ms. McClelland not write about her. Her lawyer emailed the letter to them on November 2, 2010.
The full text of the letter in K*’s own handwriting is attached and is written in Haitian Creole. It says:
You have no right to speak of my story.
You have no right to publish my story in the press
Because I did not give you authorization.
You have no right. I did not speak to you.
You have said things you should not have said.
Ms. McClelland has stated on this same twitter account that she had K*’s
permission and K*’s mother’s permission to ride along with them, but she
certainly–according to K*’s lawyer, and the driver on the ride along, and K*
herself–did not have K*’s permission to tweet personal and confidential
information about her. And even if Ms. McClelland in some way thought she had
K*’s consent, the attached letter should have made it clear that it was
withdrawn and that she had, as the letter states, “no right” to write about K*
anymore, especially in ways that her previous tweets had made K*’s and her
location easily identifiable.
I have K*’s permission to publish this letter and to talk about K* because she
is angry at the way Ms. McClelland has portrayed her in the tweets, has ignored
the wishes of her letter and continues to make K* part of her story.
This week, K* wrote me an e-mail from Port-au-Prince saying, “I want victims
in Haiti to know that they can be strong and stand up for their rights and
have a voice. Our choices about when and how our story is told must be
She closed her note by adding, “Se wozo nou ye,” citing an irrepressible reed,
which grows, in spite of impossible conditions, on the side of Haitian rivers.
“We are wozo,” K* writes. I agree.
Many have applauded Ms. McClelland’s courage, while showing little
consideration for K*. However, faced with extraordinary obstacles, to which one
should not add other types of exploitation, K* and Haiti’s other rape
survivors, have had to be more than courageous. They’ve had to be wozo.
Edwidge Danticat is a Haitian-American writer living in Miami, Florida.
This comment was posted in the comment section on Edwidge Dandicat’s essay for Essence.
Forwarded by Ezili’s Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network
White Narcissism knows no bounds in Haiti “reporting”, erzilidanto, 06/30/2011
[ezilidanto] Jezebel: Females Respond To Haiti PTSD A rticle |Reclaiming the Haiti Narrative for Toya, Defile and Sanit – Ezili Danto’s Counters with context: The Haiti nar rative of the marginalized and raped feminine warrior/lover/Div ine mother – Dantò, Asset and Isis – Black woman: Moth er of all the Races / I am the history of rape, erzilidanto, 07/01/2011
[ezilidanto] Can you get PTSD for rape from seating next to someone shouting at her rapist?, erzilidanto, 07/07/2011
On McClelland’s narcissistic stress cure:
“What would happen if every lawyer, every soldier, every policemen, every
firemen who covers an incident wanted to re-enact the murder, re-enact the war,
re-enact the shooting, re-enact the fire to cure their stress?
How about earthquake journalist who covered Haiti earthquake get to drilling
the earth to violently re-enact an earthquake to cure their vicarious trauma…
make it real with some amputated limbs and crush heads, will ya?” – Ezili Dantò
The Two Most Common Neocolonial Storylines about Haiti (2007/Ezili Dantò)
[ezilidanto] Ezili Dantò on IJDH’s the legal rep resentation of Haiti rape victims, erzilidanto, 07/10/2011