‹‹ Jwèt manman-papa, mari-madanm ››, sociocultural practice in children or possible sexual violence?

by Marie Dayana THEDAL and Max R. Shoewer LUBIN

Wednesday, March 30, 2022 ((rezonodwes.com)) – The debate on the issue of sexual violence against children is not new and the increase in the number of complaints of sexual abuse committed against minors is increasing every year. In Haiti, certain practices among children that can be considered sociocultural raise questions about their possible contribution to sexual acts of violence.

Among these practices we can quote: “Jwèt manman papa” or “Mari madanm”. Can they be considered as a simple cultural activity associated with childish amusements or possible sexual abuse among children? Do these practices not have future social consequences for these children?

What we in Haiti consider “Jwèt manman papa” is an activity involving at least two children of the opposite sex. This very recurring practice in the “country outside” is involved in certain unconscious acts such as caresses and even sex.

In fact, it is almost certain that these two children have made these people of actions without having had any knowledge or influence on what they are doing. Sometimes it is the impact of their parents’ intimate life that is at the base that pushed them to act like that. Or maybe under the influence of some TV movies. Psychologically, the child may be affected by certain things that they have seen for a while, and they also seek to realize this in their own reality.

In this sense, the issue of family management of children’s lives is a point to consider. The socio-economic crisis often pushes us into a reality where we see an entire family living in a single room in a house. Sometimes everyone’s intimate life is revealed, such as sexual intercourse in broad daylight or even in the middle of the night, when children are not exempt from these actions.

Here we consider only one aspect, but there are many others where children are often exposed in Haitian families. So in the face of this public health issue, you need to better assess them, take better care of them, better prevent them in children in Haiti in the face of possible sexual violence in the future.

What interests us most in this aspect is the future impact of this “jwèt manman papa” practice on these two children, especially on the female gender. In our reality, children who have experienced these things are often confronted with disturbing memories.

You can see a kind of complex between these two sexes in these people of discussions. Why do you think the male sex is more comfortable talking about “jwèt manman papa”, and not the girls? The latter is always in doubt about discussing these things, but the young man is in the bath to remind the girl of their childish actions.

Therefore, this complex is only an agglomeration of mental content, images, memories and experiences in childhood. This is what psychologist Carl Gustav Jung calls to identify the more or less unconscious material that most affects our past existence, which is born and lives in us of symptomatic expressions with more nuances or less neurotic, from which our personality He comes to life.

In addition, this complex in these young girls is the connection between character and the society in which it develops. So given this complex, we can not consider this practice as a cultural activity because the child is doing unconscious things which in the future will become a kind of inferiority complex in both individuals. However, this violence rarely leaves traces in both, but the psychological impact is visible.

The male gender sometimes considers this story from the past to try to get in front of the girl in a compelling perspective for a possible sexual relationship. Therefore, we can say that it is sexual violence. This change in behavior that gives rise to suspicion is associated with stereotypes of the past. The smallest word, the smallest behavior with sexual connotation, is in this context immediately perceived as a sign of sexual violence, which is an attack on the dignity and mental integrity of the individual.

It is a practice accepted by Haitian society, some even consider it cultural. However, it is a form of sexual assault in the mold in the young girl’s life. Admittedly, these two children currently do not really know what significance they are making in the future, especially in a country where sex education is completely ignored. The debate remains open at this point, but to consider “jwèt manman-papa” as a cultural practice is also to regard sexual violence as a commendable activity.

The second aspect of this article is related to another much more serious practice called “jwèt mari-madanm”. She is often preoccupied with some form of designation from an adult, either a woman or a man to a child, who may be a girl or a boy. This character is often a person close to the family who develops a kind of affection for this child, but who sometimes considers it abnormal, but society sees it as normal. Sometimes it is the parent himself who calls the child to tell him, here is your husband or your wife.

In fact, it may happen that this character has no intention, but it is in the future that you will see the effect. This union of the child and this adult can continue until the child’s maturity. Let us imagine that this adult is a pedophile, he can do anything for the child, because the latter is practically delivered to this character by the access the parents provide.

Often the latter can send the child to this adult. Out of fear, this child may have difficulty revealing certain things either to these parents or to other people. Parents can even ignore such an accusation. This is why you may find that some young girls blame characters for certain actions caused in the past.

In the future, these people of activities will often have a psychological impact on the child, which is derived from a psychological violence that does not refer only to a single reality. This relationship between the child and this adult can in the future be seen as real. It is often linked to a kind of financial dependence. This adult can be a financial support for the family and has therefore gained a kind of fame in our Haitian reality.

A psychological effect is therefore imposed, which can lead to sexual violence. I say “sexual violence” because it is not often linked to the young girl’s consent. It is rather a psychic cliché from his childhood that brings him to this point. However, this psychological violence specifically refers to acts of naming “jwèt mari-madanm” and therefore represents one of the forms of bad psychological influence.

Acceptance in the child has become an external manifestation of its instability and inner security in relation to the adult. This type of abuse can cause a complex and submissive psychological development or behavioral problems.

So we are evolving in a society where children are exposed and faced with an anxiety generated by situations or practices that are considered cultural that make them more vulnerable than they already are in a country where sexual violence is in full swing.

We can say that compared to their ages and their immaturity, these children are often abandoned by the people who are supposed to protect them. Family economic impotence, the injustice of the republic, the malice of certain adults, all these problems put the lives of children in Haiti and their future in a kind of uncontrollable mess.

This psychological trauma will most often appear in the form of sexual violence in post-traumatic children and will have effects on the construction of their personality in this Haitian community, which already considers this violence as a cultural practice.

Marie Dayana THEDAL
Memorandum in diplomacy at INUKA University


Max R. Shoewer LUBIN

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