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225,000 children are slaves in Haiti says Pan American Development Foundation


Almost a quarter of a million children, mostly girls, toil away as household slaves. In some cases Haitian families have purchased child slaves from families poorer than themselves and sold some of their own children to families richer than themselves!

From AP

Glenn Smucker, one of the report’s authors and a cultural anthropologist known for extensive work on Haiti, said he believes the number of restavek children is increasing proportionally with the population of Port-au-Prince as more migrants flee rural poverty to live in the capital.

The researchers surveyed more than 1,400 random households in five Haitian urban areas in late 2007 and early 2008, with funding help from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The most widely used previous number for restaveks came from a 2002 UNICEF survey, which estimated there were 172,000.

The new report used a broader counting system to include children related to household owners but still living in servitude, such as nieces or cousins, and as well as “boarders” living temporarily with another family but are still forced to provide labor.

“Most people working with restavek children … think that these numbers, both ours and UNICEF’s, are actually underestimating the problem,” said Herve Razafimbahini, the Pan American Development Foundation’s program director in Haiti.

He called for Haitian officials to conduct a national survey to analyze the full scope of the problem, including in rural areas.

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