A restavek (or restavec) is a child in Haiti who is sent by their parents to work for a host household as a domestic servant because the parents lack the resources required to support the child. The term comes from the French language rester avec, "to stay with". Parents unable to care for children may send them to live with wealthier (or less poor) families, often their own relatives or friends. Often the children are from rural areas, and relatives who host restaveks live in more urban settings. The expectation is that the children will be given food and housing (and sometimes an education) in exchange for doing housework. However, many restaveks live in poverty, may not receive proper education, and are at grave risk for physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
The restavek system is tolerated in Haitian culture, but not considered to be preferable. The practice meets formal international definitions of modern day slavery and child trafficking, and is believed to affect an estimated 300,000 Haitian children.The number of CDW (Child Domestic Workers) in Haiti, defined as 1) living away from parents' home; 2) not following normal progression in education; and 3) working more than other children, is more than 400,000. 25% of Haitian children age 5–17 live away from their biological parents.
When Christopher Columbus first landed on the island he called Santo Domingo in 1492, he imprisoned some native people as slaves. Later European colonists, primarily Spanish and French, imported enslaved Africans to work on the sugar cane plantations developed there. The French had a more developed plantation system on their half of the island, known as Saint-Domingue.After a successful slave revolution was conducted for years, France withdrew its troops and Haiti proclaimed independence in 1804.
While ending the conflict, France applied several rigid fines and prevented Haiti from accessing international resources.It also put a heavy debt burden on Haiti's economy that detracted the government from being able to invest in social spending for many years. The restavek tradition dates back centuries.
Following the January 2010 earthquake, thousands of individuals in Haiti were displaced from their homes and families. According to anecdotal evidence, many of these individuals were children who had nowhere to turn but to become part of the Haitian restavèk population. Along with displacement due to natural disasters, children are solicited as restavèks by recruiters looking to find domestic servants for families. Many street children are former domestic servants who were dismissed by or ran away from the families they worked for. These children have not fully escaped the restavèk life; instead, they become part of a different level that results in their exploitation in begging rings and prostitution.
Many parents send their children to be restaveks, expecting them to have a better life than possible in poor rural areas.Poor rural parents who cannot provide their children with clean water, food, and education send them away, usually to cities, to find these opportunities as restaveks.
Restaveks are unpaid and have no power or recourse within the host family.Unlike slaves in the traditional sense, restaveks are not bought or sold or owned. They could run away or return to their families, and are typically released from servitude when they become adults; however, the restavek system is commonly understood to be a form of slavery. Often host families dismiss their restaveks before they turn 15, since by law that is the age when they are supposed to be paid; many are then turned out to live on the street. Increasingly, paid middlemen act as recruiters to place children with host families, and it is becoming more common to place children with strangers. Children often have no way to get back in touch with their families.
A 2009 study by the Pan American Development Foundation found that "leading indicators of restavèk treatment include work expectations equivalent to adult servants and long hours that surpass the cultural norm for children's work at home."A contradicting 2002 survey found that restaveks were allowed to sleep as long as or longer than the household children, received fewer beatings, 60 percent or more attended school, and many had their own bed or mat.
Some restaveks do receive proper nutrition and education, but they are in the minority.According to the Pan American Development Foundation,
Education is also an important indicator in detecting child domesticity. Children in domesticity may or may not attend school, but when they do attend, it is generally an inferior school compared to other children ... and their rates of non-enrollment are higher than non-restavèk children in the home.
The estimates for numbers of restaveks in Haiti range from 100,000 to 500,000.A 2002 door-to-door survey found the number of restaveks under age 17 in Haiti to be 173,000, and 59 percent of them were girls.
Here you can find a comprehensive list of data visualizations on the Restavek phenomenon.
As poverty and political turmoil increase, the reported number of restaveks continues to rise dramatically.In 2009, the Pan American Development Foundation published the findings of an extensive door-to-door survey conducted in several cities in Haiti, focused on restaveks. The findings documented thousands of restaveks living in Haiti. The report also found that 11% of households who have restaveks working for them send their own children to work as restaveks for someone else.
It is believed that the widespread damage and displacement caused by the 2010 earthquake has caused many more children to become restaveks. Children who were orphaned by the quake could potentially be turned over to work as restaveks by distant relatives who cannot care for them.
Two major factors that perpetuate the restavek system are widespread poverty and a societal acceptance of the practice.Parents who cannot provide for their children continue to send them to be restaveks. Haiti, a nation of 10 million people, is the most poverty-stricken in the western hemisphere. Guerda Lexima-Constant, a child rights advocate with the Haitian Limyè Lavi Foundation, says:
I have yet to meet anyone who wanted to send their kid to be a restavek. Parents are forced to because of a lot of national and international givens. The [economic] means they used to have, they don't anymore. The invasion of foreign rice, eggs, and other things on the market by big business, destroying the peasant economy... there's been a whole chain of events that makes some people have to send their child away.
The practice of restavek is widely accepted in Haitian culture, although the upper classes have increasingly begun to look down on it.The connotation of the word restavek is understood to be negative, implying servility.
Individual factors that increase a child's likelihood of becoming a restavek include lack of access to clean water, lack of educational opportunities, access to family in a city, and illness or loss of one or both parents.Haiti has too few orphanages for its abundance of orphans, putting the children at high risk of becoming restaveks.
Efforts exist to address the root cause of child servitude. Improving the economy, especially through government support for the rural population, would undermine parents' incentive to give children up, as would an improved health care and education system.Parents would not be as easily pressured by recruiters to hand their children over to become restaveks if they were provided with aid such as food, clothing, and clean water.
In May 2009, over 500 Haitian leaders gathered in Port-au-Prince, Haiti to discuss the restavek condition and how to make positive changes to improve this complex problem. : Kompasyon ak Kourajcode: hat promoted to code: ht ) across Haiti. These conferences were hosted from the spring 2012 through the spring of 2013, and asked community leaders and pastors to take a stand on the issue of restavek. Over 3,000 leaders participated in these conferences and have agreed to take the lead in their respective communities to bring an end to the restavek practice.Leaders from all facets of society attended the full-day session and conference organizers from The Jean Cadet Restavec Foundation and Fondation Maurice Sixto hope that this dialog is the start of a large grass-roots movement. They hope, at a minimum, to stop the abuse of restavek children. The Restavec Freedom Foundation hosted 13 additional conferences titled "Compassion and Courage" (Haitian Creole
Other organizations in Haiti, such as Restavek Freedom Alliance, BEM Inc. are also actively working in south-western Haiti with restavek children.Organizations such as the Center for Action and Development (CAD) and L'Escale in Port-au-Prince exist to house, feed, and give medical and psychological care to escaped restaveks while working to return them to their families.
Jean-Robert Cadet vividly recounted his life as a restavek. According to him, a term for children staying with host families who do not abuse them is timoun ki rete kay moun (Kreyol for "child who stays in a person's house").
Law & Order : "Chattel" (episode 19.8, original airdate January 7, 2009) depicts the discovery, investigation, and disposition of a ring of white Americans who adopt Haitian children and employ them as restaveks.
In The Philanthropist episode "Haiti", a girl restavek is a main part of the story.
Boston Legal : In the episode "Fat Burner" (season 3, episode 15), attorney Clarence Bell represents a girl restavek charged with homicide. After being impregnated by her master, she stabbed the man to death after he had informed her that he intended to sell her baby.
Heroes : In the episode "The Eclipse" (Season 3, Episode 11), Nathan Petrelli meets a girl restavek while be held captive by Baron Samedi, Rene's (The Haitian) brother. The restavek and her sister are freed by Peter Petrelli.
Peonage, also known as debt slavery or bonded labour, is the pledge of a person's services as security for the repayment for a debt or other obligation, where the terms of the repayment are not clearly or reasonably stated, and the person who is holding the debt thus has some control over the laborer. Freedom is assumed on debt repayment. The services required to repay the debt may be undefined, and the services' duration may be undefined, thus allowing the person supposedly owed the debt to demand services indefinitely. Debt bondage can be passed on from generation to generation.
Manumission, or enfranchisement, is the act of freeing slaves by their owners. Different approaches to manumission were developed, each specific to the time and place of a particular society. Jamaican historian Verene Shepherd states that the most widely used term is gratuitous manumission, "the conferment of freedom on the enslaved by enslavers before the end of the slave system".
Child slavery is the slavery of children. The enslavement of children can be traced back through history. Even after the abolition of slavery, children continue to be enslaved and trafficked in modern times, which is a particular problem in developing countries.
Trafficking of children is a form of human trafficking and is defined by the United Nations as the "recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, and/or receipt" kidnapping of a child for the purpose of slavery, forced labor and exploitation. This definition is substantially wider than the same document's definition of "trafficking in persons". Children may also be trafficked for the purpose of adoption.
Kamaiya and Kamlari were two traditional systems of bonded labour practised in the western Terai of Nepal. Both were abolished after protests, in 2000 and 2006 respectively.
Slavery has been called "deeply rooted" in the structure of the northwestern African country of Mauritania, and "closely tied" to the ethnic composition of the country.
The continent of Africa is one of the regions most rife with contemporary slavery. Slavery in Africa has a long history, within Africa since before historical records, but intensifying with the trans-Saharan and Indian Ocean slave trade and again with the trans-Atlantic slave trade; the demand for slaves created an entire series of kingdoms which existed in a state of perpetual warfare in order to generate the prisoners of war necessary for the lucrative export of slaves. These patterns have persisted into the colonial period during the late 19th and early 20th century. Although the colonial authorities attempted to suppress slavery from about 1900, this had very limited success, and after decolonization, slavery continues in many parts of Africa despite being technically illegal.
When the Dutch and Swedes established colonies in the Delaware Valley of what is now Pennsylvania, in North America, they quickly imported African slaves for workers; the Dutch also transported them south from their colony of New Netherland. Slavery was documented in this area as early as 1639. William Penn and the colonists who settled Pennsylvania tolerated slavery, but the English Quakers and later German immigrants were among the first to speak out against it. Many colonial Methodists and Baptists also opposed it on religious grounds. During the Great Awakening of the late 18th century, their preachers urged slaveholders to free their slaves. High British tariffs in the 18th century discouraged the importation of additional slaves, and encouraged the use of white indentured servants and free labor.
Contemporary slavery, also known as modern slavery or neo-slavery, refers to institutional slavery that continues to occur in present-day society. Estimates of the number of slaves today range from around 38 million to 46 million, depending on the method used to form the estimate and the definition of slavery being used. The estimated number of slaves is debated, as there is no universally agreed definition of modern slavery; those in slavery are often difficult to identify, and adequate statistics are often not available. The International Labour Organization estimates that, by their definitions, over 40 million people are in some form of slavery today. 24.9 million people are in forced labor, of whom 16 million people are exploited in the private sector such as domestic work, construction or agriculture; 4.8 million persons in forced sexual exploitation, and 4 million persons in forced labor imposed by state authorities. 15.4 million people are in forced marriage.
Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery, with illegal smuggling and trading of people, for forced labor or sexual exploitation.
India has a very high volume of child trafficking. As many as one child disappears every eight minutes, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. In some cases, children are taken from their homes to be bought and sold in the market. In other cases, children are tricked into the hands of traffickers by being presented an opportunity for a job, when in reality, upon arrival they become enslaved. In India, there are many children trafficked for various reasons such as labor, begging, and sexual exploitation. Because of the nature of this crime; it is hard to track; and due to the poor enforcement of laws, it is difficult to prevent. Due to the nature of this crime, it is only possible to have estimates of figures regarding the issue. India is a prime area for child trafficking to occur, as many of those trafficked are from, travel through or destined to go to India. Though most of the trafficking occurs within the country, there is also a significant number of children trafficked from Nepal and Bangladesh. There are many different causes that lead to child trafficking, with the primary reasons being poverty, weak law enforcement, and a lack of good quality public education. The traffickers that take advantage of children can be from another area in India, or could even know the child personally. Children who return home after being trafficked often face shame in their communities, rather than being welcomed home.
Human trafficking in Nepal is a growing criminal industry affecting multiple other countries beyond Nepal, primarily across Asia and the Middle East. Nepal is mainly a source country for men, women and children subjected to the forced labor and sex trafficking. U.S. State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons placed the country in "Tier 2" in 2017.
Challenging heights is a non-governmental organization in Ghana protecting the rights of children and focusing their anti-trafficking efforts in the fishing and cocoa industry. According to Challenging Heights, over 24,000 children in Ghana fall victim to the worst forms of child labour annually. Challenging Heights aim is to end Child Trafficking in the next 5 years through Rescue & Recovery, Prevention, and Advocacy.
Chad is a source and destination country for children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically conditions of forced labor and forced prostitution. The country's trafficking problem is primarily internal and frequently involves parents entrusting children to relatives or intermediaries in return for promises of education, apprenticeship, goods, or money; selling or bartering children into involuntary domestic servitude or herding is used as a means of survival by families seeking to reduce the number of mouths to feed. Child trafficking victims are primarily subjected to forced labor as herders, domestic servants, agricultural laborers, or beggars. Child cattle herders follow traditional routes for grazing cattle and at times cross ill-defined international borders into Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR), and Nigeria. Underage Chadian girls travel to larger towns in search of work, where some are subsequently subjected to prostitution. Some girls are compelled to marry against their will, only to be forced by their husbands into involuntary domestic servitude or agricultural labor. In past reporting periods, traffickers transported children from Cameroon and the CAR to Chad's oil producing regions for commercial sexual exploitation; it is unknown whether this practice persisted in 2009.
Sex trafficking is defined as transportation of persons by means of coercion, deception and/or force into exploitative and slavery-like conditions and is commonly associated with organized crime.
Sexual violence in Haiti is a common phenomenon today, making it a public health problem. Being raped is considered shameful in Haitian society, and victims may find themselves abandoned by loved ones or with reduced marriageability. Until 2005, rape was not legally considered a serious crime and a rapist could avoid jail by marrying his victim. Reporting a rape to police in Haiti is a difficult and convoluted process, a factor that contributes to underreporting and difficulty in obtaining accurate statistics about sexual violence. Few rapists face any punishment.
Slavery in Haiti started after the arrival of Christopher Columbus on the island in 1492 with the European colonists that followed from Portugal, Spain and France. The practice was devastating to the native population. Following the indigenous Tainos' near decimation from forced labor, disease and war, the Spanish, under advisement of the Catholic priest Bartolomé de las Casas and with the blessing of the Catholic church, began engaging in earnest in the 1600 kidnapped and forced labor of enslaved Africans. During the French colonial period beginning in 1625, the economy of Haiti was based on slavery, and the practice there was regarded as the most brutal in the world. The Haitian Revolution of 1804, the only successful slave revolt in human history, precipitated the end of slavery not only in Saint-Domingue, but in all French colonies. However, this revolt has only merited a marginal role in the histories of Portuguese and Spanish America. This is a problem as it should hold a much more central place due to the fact that its contribution to independence in the Americas is indisputable. Moreover, it is to this rebellion in Haiti that the struggle for independence in Latin American can be traced to. However, several Haitian leaders following the revolution employed forced labor, believing a plantation-style economy was the only way for Haiti to succeed, and building fortifications to safeguard against attack by the French. During the U.S. occupation between 1915 and 1934, the U.S. military forced Haitians to work building roads for defense against Haitian resistance fighters.
Slavery in international law is governed by a number of treaties, conventions and declarations. Foremost among these is the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (1948) that states in Article 4: “no one should be held in slavery or servitude, slavery in all of its forms should be eliminated.”
Although slavery is recognized as being illegal around the world by international treaties and conventions, evidence has shown that there is still existing slavery in Yemen, and the number of slaves is in fact growing. Slavery affects and inhibits many basic human rights, and was specifically abolished by Yemen in 1962. The fact that slavery is alleged to still exist is a major human rights issue.
Nigeria has had a history of slavery and participation in the slave trade. Slavery is now illegal internationally and in Nigeria. However, legality is often overlooked with different pre-existing cultural traditions, which view certain actions differently. In Nigeria, certain traditions and religious practices have led to “the inevitable overlap between cultural, traditional, and religious practices as well as national legislation in many African states” which has had the power to exert extra-legal control over many lives resulting in modern-day slavery. The most commons forms of modern slavery in Nigeria are human trafficking and child labor. Because modern slavery is difficult to recognize, it has been difficult to combat this practice despite international and national efforts.