Sunday, July 11, 2010

Child slavery is a growing problem in Haiti

Child slavery has escalated six months after a devastating earthquake demolished the Haitian capital and left a generation of orphans, according to an advocate who works in the Caribbean nation.

Jean-Robert Cadet is the author of "Restavek," a book on the plight of Haiti's child slaves. The word, derived from a French expression that means "'stay with," refers to children given by a biological parent to a family for the purpose of doing minor housework in exchange for school, food and housing.

"Once children enter the family, they become a domestic slave and they are at the mercy of everyone in the house," Cadet said. "The only thing worse is if the child is a girl, because there is sexual abuse and the risk of pregnancy once she reaches puberty."

If a girl gets pregnant, she is ousted from the house and sent to the countryside.

"About 80 percent of the slaves are girls and they are so vulnerable," according to Cadet.

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