Random thoughts on a variety of subjects
by Sam Redman
It is surprising how ignorant so many people are of the real situation in Haiti where from 700,000 to a million children are now working as slaves, called “restaveks.” They are mostly not being “trafficked” out of Haiti, but are being exploited right there in every part of their own country. It is an evil “tradition” found virtually universally in every home which is not on the lowest poverty level. It is difficult to find a home even just above the bottom poverty status without at least one slave child (restavek) and often several. It is based on a bizarre time honored “custom” in which orphans and children from the very poorest families are given up (and sold) to families of merely moderate means and certainly more so to those with more substantial income, where these enslaved children work under often deplorable conditions and always without pay. Thousands of Haitian children are effectively sold into servitude each year, mostly as domestic workers. Known in Creole as “restaveks” — from the French reste avec, or “stays with” — the children are vulnerable to psychological, physical and sexual abuse. Mostly they are exploited there in Haiti, but many restaveks are also sold into the Dominican Republic. Please Google the term “restavek” and learn about this horrid situation, which was exposed repeatedly long before this earthquake (and this knowledge is what motivates many “do gooders” to make child rescue treks to Haiti).
These incarcerated Americans were most likely not part of that sort of trafficking at all (in fact, it is quite farcical to think they had any connection to participation in the restavek situation), but instead were most likely working to attempt to save children from this strange phenomenon and place them where they would be free from that kind of oppression.
The Haitian government has for decades allowed this to go on (and most likely will allow it to continue unabated unless the world community will move to stop it). Many of the more affluent in Haiti have long resented the efforts of “do gooder” Americans and Europeans working to destroy their comfortable tradition to be able to have their (never educated) child slaves washing their clothing, fixing their meals, drawing their baths and cleaning their homes. The action of imprisoning these Americans who were working to free children from that horrible possibility will serve notice to others to stay away and to leave their “tradition” alone (in fact, it is already working to do just that). When I am reading the statements from officials that they are wanting to stop people from taking “their children” out of the country while I am aware of the million or so child slaves working now in Haitian homes, something doesn’t ring true about their concerns. This is a “tradition” the middle and upper class don’t want changed and the way they can preserve it is to halt any more of these rescue efforts by frightening any further “do gooders” from taking any potential restaveks out of the country.
Please spend a few moments searching for the term, “restavek” and you will learn, as Paul Harvey used to say, “the rest of the story.”