Mayor-actress speaks out on domestic violence
With photos of her bruised face and body circulating on social media, a Haitian mayor and prominent actress on Wednesday revealed herself to be a victim of domestic abuse in a bid to start a national conversation about sexual violence.
“We women, which such a thing happens, we are the ones who feel ashamed. We don’t speak up because we are embarrassed, we feel shameful,” said Nice Simon, who is the mayor of Tabarre, part of the metropolitan Port-au-Prince area.
“But today, the shame is no longer for me — the shame is for the aggressor.”
At a news conference on Wednesday, the 40-year-old described in detail an attack she said she suffered two days earlier at the hands of her partner.
“He was choking me and slapping me, punching my head. I thought I was going to die,” said Simon, who was known as a Haitian movie star before becoming mayor in 2015.
“I was on the ground and he was kicking me,” she said, unzipping her dress to reveal the bruises covering her back.
Simon was finally able to escape her house, heading to hospital for treatment and to obtain a medical certificate needed to file a complaint.
Photos of her injuries were subsequently leaked on social media — inadvertently sparking a debate about domestic violence in a country where it remains condoned by many.
But the online reactions to her post — with comments suggesting she may have provoked the violence alongside ones expressing sympathy — illustrated the scale of the challenge ahead.
According to a July 2018 study by the Haitian health ministry and international organizations, 17 percent of women and 11 percent of men in the country — the poorest in the Americas — believe a man is entitled to beat his partner.