Poverty and Restavek
Living in one of the world’s poorest countries, many Haitians are at risk of being trafficked. Human trafficking victims in Haiti are primarily children. Oftentimes, impoverished parents give their children to orphanages or wealthy families. The latter practice, which this post focuses on, is called restavek.
“In Haiti, 1 in 15 children live in restavek, supporting the household work of wealthier families. These children in slavery work long hours in isolation for little or no pay. Far too many make dinner and eat alone, are denied schooling options, and are there to pay the debts of other family members.”
When giving their children to restavek, parents usually believe the child will be receive sufficient food, education, and care . Nothing could be further from the truth. Restavek is an abusive enslavement that “exploits [children] in their most vulnerable state.” According to the U.S. State Department,”most of Haiti’s trafficking cases consist of the estimated 150,000-500,000 children in domestic servitude in households throughout Haiti.”
60 percent of children living in restavek are girls.
The physical toll of restavek wreaks havoc on children’s developing bodies.
Malnutrition from meager rations.
The expectation that children work from dawn until late evening.
Children also suffer emotional and psychological abuse from practices such as the following:
Preparing a meal for the family they serve, then being forced to eat in isolation.
Conditioning that leads the child to believe they do not belong.
The child being taught not to express individuality, including emotions, personality, or thoughts.
The “twisted bond” coming from the child being abused by her or his oppressor, but receiving food, shelter, and clothing.
Education’s Role in Ending Restavek
Education is a particularly important piece in solving this puzzle and ending human trafficking in Haiti. Education empowers children to build a better life. 40 percent of Haitians cannot read, and the poorest are more likely to be illiterate. Parents often give their children to restavek situations or orphanages hoping their child will be educated. By promoting education in impoverished communities, nonprofits, such as Global Education Philanthropists, alleviate illiteracy and reduce a child’s risk of being trafficked.
Global Education Philanthropists has domestic and international opportunities to help. Domestically, the nonprofit gathers school supplies and monetary donations to decrease educational costs for children in Haiti. Internationally, the group makes humanitarian trips to Haiti and other countries in the region to build and improve schools, train teachers, and educate the community on issues such as human trafficking.
The issues Haitians face are immense, but not insurmountable. Please help us end restavek today and donate.