Adoption can be controversial. In the case of Haiti, many orphanges are poorly managed and with little oversight. Major challenges are a lack of livelihoods and access to family planning information and commodities. Many children in orphanages are not really orphans as they have parents - albeit parents that could not afford them. Trention Daniel notes Haiti is in the process of updating its adoption laws for the first time in 40 years. This would being Haiti's adoption practices closer to international standards.
The U.S. State Deparment's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (G/TIP) today announced a grant of $4.75 million to ten grantees to strengthen the capacity of the Haitian government and civil society to prevent and respond to human trafficking. Information about grantees and their activities follows in the official announcement below. Background on human trafficking in Haiti and the Dominican Republic can be found in the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report.
The U.S. State Department released its 2010 Annual Report on Human Trafficking today. Haiti remains a source, transit, and destination country for human trafficking. The most significant trafficking issue concerns restaveks – forced domestic servitude of young children given to (mostly) urban families by parents (mostly) from rural areas with larger families. An estimated 225,000 children were enslaved as restaveks prior to the 2010 earthquake. Even more children are vulnerable to exploitation in the earthquake’s aftermath. Below is the Haiti section of the report, which includes recommendations for the Haitian government and the international community.
Each year, the U.S. State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor is mandated to release country specific human rights reports that address individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As this report pertains strictly to 2009, it does not address human rights issues in post earthquake Haiti. Still, it is highly relevant as long term recovery and reconstruction will depend in part upon creating a culture that respects human rights and a government that can enforce them.
Human trafficking is a global problem that affects every country in the world. Last week, the U.S. State Department released its 2009 annual report on how well partner governments are preventing and responding to human trafficking. Understanding trafficking in Haiti requires understanding the situation in the Dominican Republic. Neither country complies with minimum standards for eliminating trafficking, although both governments acknowledge the need to do more. This is an issue that clearly requires cross-border collaboration.
It is a sad irony that child slavery still exists in the only country to have led a successful slave rebellion. On June 5th, Beyond Borders and the Calvary Baptist Church in Washington DC will host an event to raise awareness (and possible solutions) for the restavek crisis in Haiti. Sociologist and Pastor Dr. Tony Compolo will speak as well Alina Cajuste and Helia Lajeunesse. Alina and Helia are former restaveks who went on to become members of grassroots movements against child exploitation. Below are Alina and Helia's stories and a schedule for the event which is free and open to the public. If you can participate, please register online.
There was an interesting post on Corbett's List today which described how Jimmy Jean-Louis, who plays "The Haitian" on NBC's Heroes, is kicking off a campaign to fight human trafficking in Haiti. The campaign intends to raise awareness concerning the 200,000 children in Haiti who are the victims of modern-day slavery, trafficking and exploitation. You can visit the website here.
The United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery makes grants available for up to $15,000 for programs of humanitarian, legal and financial assistance to individuals whose human rights have been violated as a result of contemporary forms of slavery. Human trafficking and restaveks are just two areas where these funds could make a difference in Haiti. No awards were given for Haitiian programs last year, but hopefully a number of organizations will apply this year. Attached and below is background on this fund and the programs it supports.
Benjamin Skinner wrote an article in Foreign Policy about the modern face of human slavery. According to Skinner, there are now more slaves on the planet than at any time in human history. He states true abolition will elude us until: (1) we admit the massive scope of the problem; (2) attack it in all its forms; and (3) and empower slaves to help free themselves. Even in Haiti, the only country to have led a successful slave rebellion, slavery thrives. Slavery has many gusies and "restaveks" are just one.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is active in Haiti in a number of different areas. One if its priorities is the prevention of child abuse. In advance of a forum in Vienna next week organized by the UN Global Initiative to Fight Trafficking (UNGIFT), IOM releasd a video to raise awareness of the plight of an estimated 173,000 Haitian children internally trafficked for domestic servitude, known as Restaveks.