PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Monday April 4, 2016 – About 300 protesters marched in Haiti’s capital to demand justice following the brutal killings of three deaf and dumb women who were tortured, stoned and dumped in a gully by attackers.
The protesters on Friday also called for compensation for the families of the women, whose names they gave as Jésula Germain, Vanessa Prévil and Monique Vincent, one of whom was said to be pregnant.
The slain women lived in the coastal village of Leveque where scores of homes are reserved for deaf people and their families.
They were attacked and killed while trying to return home on foot late at night because a bridge had collapsed, preventing public transport from completing the journey from the capital.
All three earned their living as street vendors and had gone to Port-au-Prince that day to stock up on supplies.
Arrest warrants have since been issued for two men, and three women are being held for questioning, according to Jentullon Joel, the police commissioner in Cabaret near the scene of the murders.
Joel said that one of the female suspects claimed that her husband had killed the deaf women because he feared they were “lougawou,” a Haitian Creole word for evil supernatural beings who fly at night.
Mob violence is common in Haiti and experts say there is a widespread acceptance of the killing of perceived evil-doers.
Nicole Phillips, a lawyer representing the victims’ families, believes that story is “a false defence to try and justify a heinous crime,” however.
She alleged that one of the victims was known by members of the family who attacked the deaf women.
“They only came to this house late at night and asked for shelter because one of the victims knew them,” she said.
Phillips, an attorney with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, is hopeful that the case can shine a spotlight on the vulnerability of disabled Haitians and the obstacles to justice they face.
“It’s a case that’s emblematic of violence that occurs against deaf people, particularly women who can’t scream if they are attacked,” she said.
Meanwhile, several human rights organisations and groups representing the disabled have also condemned the slaughter.
The groups include the Haitian Society for Aid to the Blind (SHAA), the National Associative Network for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities (RANIPH), the National Federation of the Deaf of Haiti (FNSH) and the Association of deaf of évèque, Haiti (ASLH).
Secretary of State for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities, Gérald Oriol Jr, has also condemned the killings.
“This is unthinkable in our society that such crimes be committed,” he said.