Slavery in Haiti

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Founder & Teacher,

It is a good thing that people from all ideologies are talking about the horrors of human trafficking. Don’t let the “trendiness” of it dampen your indignation. If a liberal champions a good cause woe to conservatives who put their head in the sand.

Doug Nichols has been on the cutting edge of caring for street children since before some of you were born. He is one of my heroes. As Founder of Action International, Doug draws my attention to child slavery in Haiti. The children are called restavéks  (stay-withs).

He writes: “Let me share a few paragraphs from the recent book A Crime So Monstrous, by Benjamin Skinner:

…[Slaves] are everywhere. Assuming that this is your first trip to Haiti, you won't be able to identify them. But to a lower-middle-class Haitian, their status is 'written in blood.' Some are as young as three or four years old. But they'll always be the small ones, even if they're older. The average fifteen-year-old child slave is 1.5 inches shorter and 40 pounds lighter than the average free fifteen-year-old. They may have burns from cooking for their overseer's family over an open fire; or scars from beatings, sometimes in public, with the martinet, electrical cables, or wood switches. They wear faded, outsized castoffs, and walk barefoot, in sandals or, if they are lucky, oversized shoes...

[Y]ou may see their tiny necks and delicate skulls straining as they tote five-gallon buckets of water on their heads while navigating broken glass and shattered roads.

These are the restavéks, the 'stay-withs,' (child slaves) as they are euphemistically known in Creole. Forced, unpaid, they work from before dawn until deep night. The violence in their lives is unyielding. These are the children who won't look into your eyes. (-6)

Nationwide the number of restavéks ballooned from 109,000 in 1992 to 300,000, or one in ten Haitian children, in 1998, to 400,000 in 2002." (7)