Gulnara Shahinian, the chief United Nations investigator on slavery intimated today that Haiti “has entrenched child enslavement through its long-denounced ‘restavek’ system.” After a tour of Haiti, she has concluded that the system of restavek (or staying with)—through which parents unable to support their children send them to live with more affluent relatives or strangers for whom they receive food, shelter and education in return for work—“subjects children to multiple forms of abuse, including economic exploitation, sexual violence and corporal punishment. Hours of work typically run from early in the morning until the last adult in the home goes to bed at night, witnesses have said.” Ms Shahinian found that although placement with children with other family members has long been a practice in Haiti, nowadays “paid recruiters scour the country looking for children to traffic both within and outside Haiti. This practice is a severe violation of the most fundamental rights of the child,” said Ms. Shahinian. “[It] reinforces a vicious cycle of violence. It should be stopped immediately.”
The International Labour Organization estimates that 300,000 children work as restaveks in Haiti, population eight million.
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Photo: from A Child’s Hope International. Go to http://www.achildshopeintl.org/HomePage.html