Page 1 of 1

A petition to End Child Slavery in Haiti

Posted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 11:33 am
by Guysanto
Link to petition : ... y-in-haiti

Talk of "slavery" in the Haitian context, and extreme images of chattel slavery immediately come to mind -- the type of dehumanizing labor first imposed by the Spanish "discoverers" (???) of Haiti Qisqueya Bohio that was chiefly responsible for wiping out an estimated 1 million Native Americans (Indians) from the Island of Haiti. Later, the practice was refined (it achieved levels of savagery so far unequaled in the history of mankind) to exact the maximum production that could be squeezed out of a legally classified class of sub-human beings (the Africans) strictly for the material enrichment of European-Christian High Society.

Hence the unease experienced by many intelligent and well-meaning individuals. As the words "slavery" and "holocaust" and "genocide" are, often loosely, used for emphasis today in characterizing the grave social injustices and crimes of our times, there is a legitimate concern that they may end up blurring all realities (contemporary and historical, alike), through the broad assimilation of divergent characteristics and the use of "same words" to describe "different historical and social contexts". Worse yet, this often leads to an unwinnable war of semantics that lead to inaction -- the opposite of the effect desired by all people of good will.

We can all agree that the informal institution of juvenile domestic labor ("restavek") is a brutal social reality that needs to be brought to an end as soon as possible (like yesterday).

I urge you to get involved and to inform yourselves about the situation of the youths of Haiti, who are literally the future of our nation.

If you are particularly concerned about forms of historical and contemporary slavery, I encourage you to explore well-documented sites on the subject, such as these links from the American Anti-Slavery Group: (home) and ... index.html (The Slave Experience) from which I excerpt the following two "snapshots of the human experience" in Haiti:


When Judith Marcena was 10, her father began to pack a bag and told her she was going to school in the city. She and her father traveled by bus to Port-au-Prince, where they slept at the house of one of her father's ex-girlfriends. After her father left early in the morning, Judith's new 'stepmother' turned to her and said, "He doesn't want you. He gave you to me, and you'll do as I say."

Instead of going to school, Judith has to walk the other children to class each morning - only after dumping the chamber pot. She then fetches water, cleans the house, cooks meals, and washes dishes from 5 am to 11 pm. She sleeps on the floor and eats very little. When she is near the other children, they hold their noses and call her 'restavek' (a slur for the Haiti's class of domestic slaves). A neighbor, taking pity on her, once gave her 50 centimes (12 cents). Her stepmother accused her of stealing and threw a rock at her head. Judith is now 12, still "a little person who lives with big people."[/quote]


Marcelineis, a 7 year-old restavek:

"I get up at 5 in the morning, and start by collecting the urine from the previous night, because the washrooms are outside the house. Then when children go to school, I sweep and wash the floor. Then I go and get some water, I go to the market and fix dinner. I work alone and never get any money; my clothes are the children's old discarded clothes, and I eat once a day. I would like to be bigger so the children would stop beating me."[/quote]

The children of Haiti are the only reason that I signed the petition, with the hope that it will bring some pressure on the Government of Haiti to take some significant steps to abolish the ignominious practice of restaveks in Haiti. Here was my accompanying comment:

[quote]Sep 17, Guy Antoine, New Jersey
You call it slavery. I call it juvenile abuse and unregulated child labor. Either way, it should be abolished and all children should be protected by the State and given educational opportunities targeted to escaping a life of poverty.[/quote]

I hope that you will join me and assist in gathering the 1,000 signatures targeted by this petition.

Putting our differences aside, let's take action to re-symbolize Haiti as the spiritual source of freedom for people around the word.

Guy S. Antoine
Windows on Haiti

Posted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 10:42 am
by Guysanto
Thank you, Aragorn! I hope to see others from our group.

Posted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 10:30 am
by Guysanto
Why aren't more AnnPale members signing the petition?

Posted: Mon Sep 29, 2008 12:33 am
by Tayi
# 814 with this comment:

[quote]This situation is complex and needs to be approached as such. I would call this treatment of children unacceptable child abuse, where those children suffer more than we can think. They grow to believe that their proper place is to be the r├Ęstavek.[/quote]

Three things:

1. We need a lot of education in this area for the whole country.
2. Many people who participate in these matters are "nice people". Also many of these things happen at the request of the parents from the country side who think their children will be in a better place in the city.
3. It will take courage for each one of us to be able to confront a friend or family who might be abusing a child in that system--so find the courage.

Posted: Mon Sep 29, 2008 7:38 am
by Guysanto
Thank you, Tayi, Aragorn, and Leonel for joining me in this petition. Hopefully more will follow. Your comments are also well-appreciated.

Posted: Mon Sep 29, 2008 1:18 pm
by Leoneljb
Ya Welcome!
There are so much we need to do for Haiti. Unfortunately, with the Finanacial Crisis, I don't know when and how it will happen?
There are so many Children scarred for life by this Injustice! They shall overcome!