I really don’t have time to do a proper rant on this subject, but let me pitch into it a bit.
Child trafficking is a very serious problem in Haiti. As I’ve discussed in this blog before, thousands of Haitian children are smuggled into the D.R. every year, where they end up as prostitutes and beggars, slaves to those who brought them in. Most often desperate Haitian mothers pay these smugglers to take their children. The predators tell these women that the children are being taken to work in Dominican homes, that they will be given shelter, an education and plenty to eat–things unavailable to them in Haiti. These kids aren’t difficult to find. They wander the streets of Santiago and Santo Domingo. Any tourist who has ever been to those cities has seen some of them.
There are also an estimated 300,000 Haitian children held in slavery in Haiti as restavecs. These children are abused in every way imaginable. Most often they are young girls, who are sexually abused. Jean Robert Cadet’s memoir Restavec tells the story of his horrific childhood. I highly recommend it.
A couple of years ago a reporter in New York set out to discover how long it would take him to buy a Haitian child. He left his home in NYC one morning and flew to Port au Prince. By the end of the day he had negotiated the purchase of an eleven year old girl for $150, no questions asked. Here is the story: http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/buy-child-10-hours/story?id=5326508&page=2
Tens of thousands of Haitian children are literally abandoned, living on the streets, and often dying of hunger and neglect. This has been going on for decades at least, and the vast majority of the world has been completely indifferent to it. The so-called government of Haiti has long been complicit in the mistreatment, abuse and neglect of Haitian children. At best the kids were commodities. At worst, they were nuisances to be ignored.
With this shameful background and history, the Haitian government is now pretending to care about trafficking of Haitian children. With the eyes of the world on Haiti, rescue workers are being arrested and put in Haitian jails when they can’t produce proper “paperwork.”
And that is not the worst of it. International relief agencies like World Vision, Save the Children, UNICEF and the Red Cross have called for moratoriums on Haitian adoption, supposedly out of a concern for child trafficking. American parents of adopted Haitan children are being prevented from leaving the country with their kids. And NGOs in Haiti, which have operated there for years rescuing children, are now being treated like suspected child traffickers.
Yesterday a little Haitian girl, who was rescued from Port-au-Prince, needed to be taken across the border into the D.R. to have an x-ray. She had an arm amputated following the earthquake. The amputation was below her wound and she is in terrible pain. The missionaries have taken children across the border for medical treatment routinely over the last 11 years. But yesterday, with the border crawling with international relief agencies on the supposed lookout for child traffickers, they weren’t allowed to cross. The little girl didn’t get the treatment she needs.
As Cherie put it yesterday, how many of the people who are criticising the attempts to rescue these children have ever been to Haiti?
I could go on for an hour on this subject, but I’ll stop now before elevating my blood pressure any more.
Soon the world will turn its attention elsewhere. The children of Haiti will continue to suffer long after the news crews and the Red Cross move on. I just hope that some of these people who now claim to understand so well what is best for Haiti’s children, will take a hard look at Haiti this time next year. They probably won’t look. But if they do, they won’t like what they see.