“Age & Marriage Tame The Beast”

Posted: 10 December 2015 in Cultural, Haiti, Understanding Others
Tags: , ,

The Beast quote

Well that’s a proverb here, but I wonder on its veracity. One of the staff I know here in Haiti is getting married soon.  So how does marriage work here?  There is no pattern of arranged marriages like in South Asia, nor family contracts like in Uganda.  Nor is there bride price, nor dowry.  Men meet women and that is that.  Marriage often following from pregnancy.  Abortion? It is illegal and socially not in favour either, due in large part to the Roman Catholic Church.  Sometimes mother will press younger daughters to abort, partially for reasons we know in UK – damage to education and work opportunities. But also because the new baby will link the daughter semi-permanently to some scally-wag who happened to have passed on his DNA.

The bride‘s family tend to pay for the wedding whereas the groom’s parents pay for the furniture.  To be more specific, it is the bride’s Godmother who pays for the wedding and often for the education of children when they come.  So that invite to be the Godmother?   – Think carefully before accepting.

I was asked to preach, and looked to Genesis to give relevant words of encouragement and wonder. I thought about the injunction in the Bible for a man to leave his parental household and join with the woman – first arising in Genesis and then turns up four times elsewhere in the Bible.  I asked about, to find out how things are done round here I wondered?  In some Asian cultures, the new daughter-in-law joins an extended household of the groom’s parents and the new bride becomes the household skivvy.  This is not the case here in Haiti.  The new couple set up new household.  But the issue here is that the groom remains at the parental beck-and-call.

Family planning is something of a Cinderella service.  And as a practice it is widely known but much less used.   Men are loathed to consider contraception, let alone vasectomy.  The vasectomy clinic ran a while back by a doctor I knew, was not a success. Almost all men hated it, it felt like their manhood was being removed, directly linked with the capacity to reproduce. Their very manhood revolves around their capacity for reproduction, not their capacity for erectile performance.  A few wanted vasectomy so they could philander more! Women have little control over their reproduction. And should a woman use methods to control her reproduction without the permission of her man, she will often be in for a beating.

I asked if the pastors preached against this, and preached monogamy.  There is no formal polygamy but there’s plenty of infidelity.  I was told the pulpits do speak against this, but some of the pastors don’t always practice what they preach, which I’ve heard from a separate source too.

Men need to save themselves from themselves. And not just in Haiti – I see in UK prisons, plenty of men inside for assaulting loved ones.  They are often men who have failed to adjust to the new empowerment women now have.  Perhaps they are the “new beast”, a lot of men in Haiti are much old school, “old beast”.  Either way, the beast is not so easily tamed, by age not marriage.


  1. […] Haiti they say “Age and marriage tame the beast”.    But by the time I stood to speak to over 470 Haitian men on this, I knew that was only […]

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