Nearly 50 percent of Haitian men over age 50 and living in rural areas admitted to being polygamous at one point in their lives, according to Timothy Schwartz, author of “Fewer Men, More Babies; Sex, Family, and Fertility in Haiti.” In his book, Schwartz examines the relationships between men and women in raditional Haitian communities.
Such statistics give way to the belief that Haitian men are promiscuous and unfaithful.
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You’ll overhear the laments at a restaurant or a party, when one Haitian woman gripes to another, “gason se chyen” (men are dogs) or “gason pa ka rete san fi” (men can’t live without women).
They are usually dishing about their husbands or boyfriends, and the complaints are almost always followed by warnings to younger women to watch out for Haitian men because they are all “vakabons” (street hoodlums and freeloaders).
“First and foremost they are cheaters,” says Ivena Viciere, a mother of two who emigrated to the United States 25 years ago and, like many Haitian mothers, instructs her daughter to not date Haitian men.
If arried men find a woman willing to live as a mistress, the men will not hesitate to cheat, Viciere tells her daughter.
Because men in rural areas are often impoverished, women do not have many relationship options.
“They have to compete for those few males who have money and wealth.
This means accepting men who have other lovers, spouses. “Family members, particularly mothers, control, manipulate and guide daughters into making practical decisions.
In an instance where a wife learns her husband has a mistress, the majority of Haitian men recommend the woman leave her husband. Men involved in numerous relationships say having more than one woman serves as a sort of compensation for what one wife may be lacking, Schwartz says. “If there is something they want you to do, and you don’t want to, they’ll tell you outright ‘I can find someone else to do it,’” she says.
Schwartz further explains, “In cases where they don’t get along, [the wife] may be very happy that he spends his time elsewhere.
She may encourage it.” Schwartz even blames Haitian women for tolerating extramarital unions for financial gain.
“Women in Haiti tolerate, if not encourage, [polygamy],” he says.