Deadly superstitions

Deaf Haitian women beaten to death in ritualistic ceremony

A view of Haiti's capital city, Port au Prince. The women spent the day there before setting off on the 20-mile trip home by foot. (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)

Jesula Gelin, Vanessa Previl and Monique Vincent were friends who prayed and sold rice and popcorn together. The three deaf women lived in a special community for Haitians with disabilities in Levenque, about 20 miles away from Haiti’s capital, where they fetched food from the markets this week a day before their bodies were found. According to the Associated Press, the women were brutally killed—their tongues cut out and their bodies were beaten, stabbed, burned—and targeted because of their disabilities.

In Haiti, cultural prejudice against those with disabilities is common. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable, the AP report said. “I can’t understand it,” signed Gelin’s husband, Micheler Castor who is also deaf. “She served the Lord and was a good wife and mother.”

Gelin was 29 years old.

Three members of a family have been arrested by police in connection to the deaths, but two male suspects still await capture. According to one suspect, the women were killed under the suspicion that they were “lougawou,” or werewolf creatures, and that their disabilities were the result of a hex.

Read the full story at the Associated Press.

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