When it comes to gender roles and family connections, the different cultural backgrounds of the Haitian population are at the basis of the situation. African and French cultures are the two most significant cultural influences, to put it simply. The African heritage is one extremity of the spectrum.
It is still quite strong among the Afro-Haitians. The three lowest strata of Haitian society are the Middle Class, the Urban Low Class, and the Rural Peasantry. They have retained their African cultural heritage.
This is particularly visible in the domains of marital relationships, clearly defined roles for each gender before and after marriage, different sorts of unions, and the extended family system. Some people spend their lives trying to forget about the cultural influences their parents passed on to them. Still, those who have fully embraced their French background are Mulattoes.
Rural Haiti is where the vast majority of Haitians live. The majority of the population is made up of Afro-Haitian people.
In Haiti, the dual influences of African origin and the history of slavery have resulted in a unique definition of gender roles. This has led to different expectations and perceptions between men and women, affecting their interactions with each other.
In rural Haiti, agriculture is the most important employment and economic activity source. The majority of the population, both male and female, comprises farmers.
Whether a couple is married or in a marital arrangement, their primary economic and financial operations, concentrated on food crop cultivation, are a collaborative effort between the man and his wife.
Haitian culture places much importance on a woman’s contribution to the farm, evidenced by all income earned from agricultural production going to both husband and wife.
The agricultural labor is divided between the husband and wife to make their efforts complementary. The husband does hard work, such as clearing brush, tilling, and hoeing, while the wife oversees tasks like weeding, pruning, and harvesting crops.
Following the harvest, the wife prepares the produce for sale in the market as a follow-up.
She is responsible for processing crops such as cassava tubers into cassava flour and cassava starch before transporting them to the vendors for sale.
Her husband’s agricultural harvest is sold entirely through the woman’s efforts. The earnings from the sales are utilized to provide for the entire family’s needs, including the children.
In couples with a ‘plasaj’ or concubinage marriage arrangement, provisions are established for the woman’s economic security.
The husband is obligated to cultivate a plot of land for the wife’s own farm, for which she is likely to be a second wife.
Rural women who work as full-time market vendors can frequently achieve financial independence. Tradition dictates that these ladies are not compelled to share their earnings with their spouses.
However, the voluntary contributions made by some people from their trading and other non-farming activities contribute to supplementing family income by providing a source of additional revenue.
There are many different marital arrangements among the peasants of rural Haiti, each with its own set of rules. You have a monogamous marriage between a man and a woman on your hands.
Under the conventional system, a marriage might be negotiated between two people. In this arrangement, the guy makes a payment to the woman’s family at a bride price.
Polygamy is still not uncommon in rural Haiti and although it is illegal. All other ‘plasaj’ women are treated as the man’s concubines in these communities, except for the first wife. The authorities usually recognize her as his legitimate wife.
Haitian parents are very welcoming to children, even those born outside of marriage. They do so because they feel intense, unconditional love for their offspring.
In rural Haiti, the extended family system, often known as the ‘Lakou,’ is still alive and well.
Members of a ‘Lakou’ labor together on one other’s farms and lend each additional financial assistance when in financial need. Consider that most traditional activities in rural Haiti are a faithful transmission of the original traditions passed down from their African forefathers.
African rural civilizations have held on to many of their old customs, such as having polygamous marriages, cooperation in the fields, and living in large family compounds. These are all still very much a part of life.
Haiti in the City
The migration of Afro-Haitians from rural to urban areas has impacted the traditional rituals and ceremonies that are practiced. Some of these rituals and traditions have been modified, while others disappeared.
The ‘plasaj,’ often known as concubinage, is still the most popular type of marriage among Haiti’s urban working-class communities today.
Before any legalities are sorted, a couple will live together as man and wife and rely on their own marriage vows.
This means different things depending on where they live and their beliefs. Nevertheless, the root of the problem is that decisions are made by themselves and not by officials with authority.
Husbands and wives in urban working-class families share the financial burden of keeping the house in good repair. Husbands are employed in a salaried capacity, while wives engage in petty trading or the running of small cafes and breweries.
The husbands of urban low-class families also assist with heavy domestic work such as fetching firewood for cooking fuel, while the wives prepare the meals themselves and their other housekeeping responsibilities and childcare responsibilities.
Formal monogamous marriages are the norm among middle-class Haitians, who primarily reside in metropolitan areas and are of the Christian faith. Church wedding ceremonies or the legal exchange of vows in a court of competent jurisdiction are the most common types of middle-class marriages in the United States.
Husbands typically assist their spouses with childcare and other household responsibilities, mainly when both the husband and wife are employed full-time or part-time.
The arrival of Protestant churches in Haiti in the latter half of the twentieth century has encouraged legal unions between couples from all socioeconomic backgrounds, including the urban poor and middle class, by providing affordable church weddings for members of these churches.
For hundreds of years, the elite upper-class Haitians, primarily mulattoes, have imitated the French way of doing things in their daily lives.
They live in the same manner as the French, speak the French language at home and at work, and have embraced the French marital conventions and practices in their relationships.
Civil or religious marriage was considered the standard, and the “best” families could trace their legal weddings back to the nineteenth century or even further.
It used to be that the “best” households would arrange courtships between eligible spinsters and eligible bachelors. Because of this, it was usual for mulatto elite families to be intertwined, with cousins marrying their cousins.
The husband used to leave the house to work in a paid job or run the family company, leaving the wife to care for the household and children, surrounded by servants at the time.
Immigration from Europe and the changing economic conditions in Haiti are causing changes in the top-elite of the country’s elite upper class.
It is currently typical for upper-class females to take on a paid job while their husbands share responsibility for the family’s upkeep.