International News

After Haitian President Tells Woman to "Go Get a Man," Female Ministers Resign in Protest

Haitian President Michel Martelly, a star singer who went by the stage name "Sweet Micky," already had plenty of problems in his desperately struggling nation. Entering the final year of his five-year term, he's been widely condemned for corrupting the country's judiciary branch, governing as a quasi-dictator, and empowering alleged criminals, including a senior adviser who was accused of killing someone in a gunfight.  

But now the 54-year-old Martelly, who has long been prone to outlandish remarks, has an entirely new scandal on his hands. On July 29, during a rally in Miragoane, a midsize port city on the country's west coast, a woman in the audience asked her president about the government's failure to provide electricity, the BBC reported

The president's response: He told the woman, "Go get a man and go into the bushes" (to have sex), the broadcaster reported. After the insult, the crowd in Miragoane loudly cheered. 

But Martelly was quickly condemned by cooler heads. Earlier this week, three female Haitian ministers announced their resignations, citing the president's sexism, and women marched in Port-au-Prince in a show of disgust. 

The scandal has also resonated in Miami's Haitian diaspora. 

"President Martelly should apologize not only to that woman, not only to all women in Haiti, but to the entire nation," Marlene Bastien, president of Fanm Ayisyen nan Miam, told New Times. "Shame on him."

In response to the turmoil, two of Martelly's cabinet ministers and a secretary of state have already resigned. Martelly's term is up at the end of the year, and he's already been governing without a legislature for all of 2015. The latest scandal isn't likely to improve his reputation.

"He has established an environment of corruption, abuse of power, and impunity,” Robert Maguire, a scholar at George Washington University, told the New York Times
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Trevor Bach