The Children of Injustice by Ruth Auguste tackles something that is often hushed in Haitian culture and is not discussed even in the most intimate settings: domestic violence and sexual abuse of women and children.
Auguste, who currently resides in Canada, was born in Haiti in the late 1970s at a time when premarital pregnancies resulted in societal disgrace for young girls, so when her mother Marie-Micheline Danticat’s clandestine adventures with her secret boyfriend produces a child, a child he disclaims, she is sent off elsewhere to have her child.
The boyfriend’s staunch denial of little Ruth leads the young Marie-Micheline to seek another father for her baby and redeem herself out of disgrace at all costs. The high price she pays is an abrupt marriage with a man who from the start displays dangerously possessive traits. But desperate and alienated as an unwed mother, and wishing to walk down the aisle the way her former boyfriend walked down the aisle with another woman, Marie-Micheline jumps head-on in a marriage with Pressoir, a man who turns out to be a Tonton Macoutes, a soldier in the feared militia of Haitian late-president François Duvalier’s army (his son Jean-Claude is the successor and president at the beginning of Auguste’s book). From then on, Pressoir terrorizes the entire family and uses his clout as a Tonton Macoute to evade justice, and Marie-Micheline becomes bathed in guilt as her little one becomes emotionally and physically abused and sexually exploited right under her nose.
The Children of Injustice is a must-read. Auguste is rather bold to have written her memoir, sparing no detail about her ordeal and her road to healing (As an adult, Auguste founded the World Gifters Society, an organization whose mission is to help the abused in Haiti). She’s a great model to victims everywhere, who in lieu of becoming emotional prisoners of their abusive past, choose to wiggle out of it, and help others do the same.