Rimpel, Yvonne Hakim. Feminist, journalist – Born in Port-au-Prince in 1906, Rimpel was a founder of the first Haitian feminist organisation, the Women’s League for Social Action (Ligue Feminine d’Action Sociale). It was founded in 1934 by a group of women intellectuals, professionals and activists from the middle and upper classes, and played an important role in politics for the next 25 years, focusing mainly on legal rights – suffrage, access to education, equality for married women. In 1951, she founded Escale, a bi-weekly news revue, and for six years she was its director, driving force, and main editor.
The Constitution of 1950 gave women a limited right to vote (with their husbands’ permission) but it was not until 1957 that they obtained full equal suffrage. Rimpel, a supporter of presidential candidate, Louis Déjoie, was an active participant in the electoral campaign. When François Duvalier emerged as winner, she criticised the role of General Kébreau in assuring Duvalier’s victory.
On the night of 5th January 1958, François Duvalier sent a group of masked men to Rimpel’s house. They dragged her off into the night, and the next morning she was found lying naked in a street in Petionville, beaten unconscious, covered in blood, and probably raped. After two months in hospital, she recovered, but she never wrote again. She maintained her silence until her death in June 1986.
Challenging Violence: Haitian Women Unite Women’s Rights and Human Rights by Anne Fuller