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Street Children

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                                 

Republic of Haiti

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with 80% of the population living under the poverty line and 54% in abject poverty. Two-thirds of all Haitians depend on the agricultural sector, mainly small-scale subsistence farming, and remain vulnerable to damage from frequent natural disasters, exacerbated by the country's widespread deforestation.

US economic engagement under the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE) Act, passed in December 2006, has boosted apparel exports and investment by providing tariff-free access to the US … the apparel sector accounts for two-thirds of Haitian exports and nearly one-tenth of GDP.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Haiti

Scope and Magnitude: Several NGOs noted a sharp increase in the number of Haitian children trafficked for sex and labor to the Dominican Republic and The Bahamas during 2008. The majority of trafficking cases are found among the estimated 90,000 to 300,000 restaveks in Haiti, and the 3,000 additional restaveks who are trafficked to the Dominican Republic. Poor, mostly rural families send their children to cities to live with relatively wealthier “host” families, whom they expect to provide the children with food, shelter, and an education in exchange for domestic work. While some restaveks are cared for and sent to school, most of these children are subjected to involuntary domestic servitude. These restaveks, 65 percent of whom are girls between the ages of six and 14, work excessive hours, receive no schooling or payment and are often physically and sexually abused.   - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a later country report here or a full TIP Report here



CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Haiti.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Haiti: Socio-Political Crisis OCHA Situation Report No. 14

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs OCHA,  19 Jul 2004

[accessed 13 June 2013]


9. Child domestic workers are perhaps amongst the most exploited sectors in Haiti. A child who stays with and works for another family is called a "restavec" (rester avec), in Creole. According to the Restavec Children Foundation, these children are often given away or sold by poor families in order to survive. Frequently the children's most basic rights to health and education are denied. They are not paid for their work and often abused. For instance, the restavecs have to return to their duties in the house, after having escorted the house owner's children to school. The restavec boys and the girls often flee at the age of 12-13, joining one of the many street gangs or ending up as prostitutes.

Slavery: Worldwide Evil

Charles Jacobs, President, American Anti-Slavery Group

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 5 September 2011]

HAITI: SUGAR SLAVES - Next time you add sugar to your coffee, think of Andre Prevot. A Haitian, Prevot met a man who promised him a good job nearby in the Dominican Republic (DR). But, as we've seen with the Asian slavers, this is a classic lure. "He took me across the border and sold me to the Dominican soldiers for $8," explains Prevot. Once in their custody, he suffered the fate of thousands of his countrymen who are forced against their will to cut cane for six or seven months — from December to June — for little or no money.

Though many Haitians work willingly in the Dominican sugar plantations (Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere), there is a perennial shortfall at harvest time. The State Sugar Council, known as the CEA, fills the gap with a system that violates nearly every internationally recognized labor code against forced labor. Although political turmoil in Haiti has put an end to cross-border recruiting, the enslavement of blacks continues.



*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Haiti

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 8 June 2021]


While there were no reports of forced or compulsory labor in the formal sector, other reports of forced or compulsory labor were made, specifically instances of forced labor among child domestics, or restaveks (see section 7.c.). Children were vulnerable to forced labor in private and NGO-sponsored residential care centers, construction, agriculture, fisheries, domestic work, and street vending.


While there were no reports of forced or compulsory labor in the formal sector, other reports of forced or compulsory labor were made, specifically instances of forced labor among child domestics, or restaveks (see section 7.c.). Children were vulnerable to forced labor in private and NGO-sponsored residential care centers, construction, agriculture, fisheries, domestic work, and street vending

Restaveks were exploited by being forced to work excessive hours at physically demanding tasks without commensurate pay or adequate food, being denied access to education, and being subjected to physical and sexual abuse.

Girls were often placed in domestic servitude in private urban homes by parents who were unable to provide for them, while boys more frequently were exploited for farm labor. Restaveks who did not run away from families usually remained with them until age 14. Many families forced restaveks to leave before age 15 to avoid paying them wages as required by law. Others ignored the law, often with impunity.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 8 July 2020]


Socioeconomic mobility is obstructed by entrenched poverty, with low national literacy rates and over 50 percent of Haitians living on less than $2.40 a day. Legal protections against exploitative working conditions in formal employment are weakly enforced, and most workers are informally employed. As many as 300,000 children work as domestic servants, often without pay or access to education; they are especially vulnerable to physical or sexual abuse. Other forms of child labor are common.

2017 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2018

[accessed 18 April 2019]

[accessed 28 April 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 496]

A 2015 study found that there were approximately 286,000 child domestic workers in Haiti, 207,000 of whom were lagging behind in school. (13; 14; 10; 5) Some parents who are unable to care for their children send them to residential care centers or to relatives or strangers who are expected to provide the children with food, shelter, and schooling in exchange for household work. In practice, some of these children receive care and access to education, while many others become victims of labor exploitation and abuse. (2; 3; 4; 12; 14; 22; 15)

Children are trafficked both internally and externally, primarily to the Dominican Republic, other Caribbean countries, South America, and the United States. NGOs have reported that children illegally crossing the Haiti-Dominican Republic border are often accompanied by adults who are paid to act as the children’s parents or guardians until they reach the Dominican Republic. (18; 23; 24; 25; 10; 6; 5) Some of these children are reunited with relatives in the Dominican Republic, while others engage in commercial sexual exploitation, domestic work, agriculture, street vending, and begging. (25; 26; 10; 5; 6)

During 2017, the Government of the Dominican Republic continued with the involuntary repatriations of individuals with irregular migration status to Haiti, pursuant to Dominican law. (14; 27; 28) Many of these individuals, including children, are Dominicanborn persons of Haitian descent. (29) At the end of 2017, reports indicate that 132,995 individuals migrated spontaneously to Haiti, including 4,167 unaccompanied minors. (28) Some of these children were residing in Haiti in camps near the border with the Dominican Republic, where schools and other basic services are not available. In addition, these children may not speak French or Haitian Creole, the languages of instruction in public Haitian schools. (4; 14; 17; 30; 31) These children, including those who have been deported to Haiti or who left spontaneously, are vulnerable to the worst forms child labor. (30; 5; 31).

Restavčk: The Persistence of Child Labor and Slavery

RestavčkFreedom, Submission to the United NationsUniversal Periodic Review, 3-14 October 2011

[accessed 9 February 2019]


SYNTHIA’S STORY -- This is a recent story of a child assisted by Restavčk Freedom.  The name was changed to protect her privacy. Synthia celebrated her 15th birthday recently.    This was the first time anyone had celebrated her birth.  Her mother died when Synthia was an infant and she was taken to live with her mother’s oldest sister for three years and then sent to live with her godmother, who was her mother’s youngest sister. She was never sent to school by her godmother and had to remain at home to do all the work.    She  was  never  shown  any  love  or  affection  and  would  get  beatings  for  not  working  fast enough  or  if  she  took  too  long  to  fetch  the  water  and  she  would  get  beatings  if  anything  was misplaced around the house.  She was in charge of all household work including taking care of the younger children. During an emotional recount of one incident she described the fear that she encountered as she was sent on a late night errand.  The area where she lived is known for some of the worst gang members and thieves of Haiti so naturally, as a young girl, she was afraid.  Because it was late at night she had difficulty finding the item she was sent to purchase.  By the time she arrived at the merchant, she was closed.  Synthia knew that she would be beaten but she also knew that she had  no  control  over  the  situation. When  she  arrived  the  beating  was  severe  and  she  was made to sleep outside for the night. Synthia wanted to end her life.    She  tells  Restavčk  Freedom  that  the  only  thing  that stopped  her  was  the  fact  that  she  was  in  school  and  felt  loved  by  the  child  advocate  from  our organization and that she would miss her.Synthia  has  been  removed  from  this  situation  and  is  now  in  a  loving  and  supportive environment.  She often comments that she feels as if she is in a dream.  She is very intelligent and wants to study computer engineering.

FABIOLA’S STORY -- Fabiola is a 21 year old woman who has suffered most of her life as a restavek.  She was 3  when  she  lost  her  mother  and  was  then  raised  by  an  aunt  until  the  age  of  10.    Her  aunt  had other  people  living  in  the  home  including  Fabiols’s  godmother.    One night the godmother’s boyfriend tried to rape Fabiola.    A neighbor heard her screaming and came to her rescue.    The neighbor then told the aunt of the incident.  Once everyone was aware of this the man lost face, was embarrassed and left the home.  No one actually kicked him out.Fabiola was blamed for the man leaving the home and made her life more miserable than before.  The godmother had two children with the man and he was no longer willing to help care for these children.    She  was  so  badly  mistreated  that  a  neighbor  offered  to  take  her.    In  the beginning the neighbor treated her decently, as Fabiola describes, not beating her or cursing her.  After time she began to slap Fabiola across the face and beat her, blaming her for things she did not do.  She ran away from this home and went to live with someone she barely knew.  Fabiola had to do all the work in this home and take care of the woman’s children.  The woman  had  a  boyfriend  that  lived  nearby  and  Fabiola  was  required  to  take  food  to  him  every afternoon.    The  man  was  a  man  of  authority  and  had  a  gun,  he  knew  that  he  could  manipulate Fabiola.    On  one  occasion  he  asked  her  to  get  something  for  him  inside  his  room...he  then followed her and attacked her.  He threw her on his bed and raped her.  He threatened to kill her if she told anyone of the incident.    She  did  not  tell  anyone  because  he  had  showed  her  the  gun and she was also afraid that no one would believe her story.  Fabiola would often try to get others to take the food to the man but then he realized what she was doing and made things worse for her every time she did not bring the food herself.  This went on for 2 years before she ran away. Fabiola  has  recently  begun  school  for  the  first  time  in  her  life  and  is  struggling,  as  one would expect.  She wants desperately to learn and is working extremely hard studying for hours each day.

ROSALINE’S STORY -- Rosaline was living with a biological aunt until the aunt moved her due to the abuse she was receiving from the children of the man she married. She is now living with another woman who already had a restavek.  Rosaline reported that the woman did not beat her but it was the way she cursed at her and talked to her that was the hardest. Rosaline’s mother lives in the countryside but Rosaline does not want to go back to her mother because she believes that her mother sent her in the hope that she can go to school and have a better life. She believes that her mother would not accept her back home. Rosaline is one of Restavčk Freedom’s children that comes to school looking nice. Her hair is done and her clothes are pressed. To observe her from the outside one might believe that she has a good life but you cannot see the suffering inside her soul from someone who needs love.  She does not dream nor does she have any idea of what she would like to become someday. She doesn’t dare to hope.

LENA’S STORY -- Lena was sent to Port-au-Prince when she was 8 years old. She lives with a host family that has 3 children, all attending school. Lena is 15 years old and had never attended school until Restavčk Freedom supported her schooling. After 2 weeks in school she can now write her name for the first time in her life. She is in charge of all the household chores and also takes care of the children and all of their needs as the host aunt died, leaving her with the woman’s husband. Her body is young but her face is older than 15 years. She became very emotional as she told Restavčk Freedom of her misery and the burdens she carries.  She is never treated with respect and often misses school due to responsibilities in the home.

GUERDA’S STORY -- Guerda was sent to live with a man and his family in a rural community. Guerda’s father was not poor but he had remarried and the woman he married would not allow the child from another woman to live in the house. Guerda was given to the father’s brother. Guerda was not allowed to use her family name as it was the same last name as the man she was now living with and he did not want anyone in the community to know that she was his niece.  Guerda was treated like the restavek in the family. She had to do all the household chores and take care of the other children.  The man owned a school so he did allow her to attend school but our foundation was paying for her to attend. When Restavčk Freedom interviewed Guerda she recounted how painful it was for her that he did not want to recognize her as his niece and the humiliation she suffered in the fact that he would not recognize her as a relative. She said that he always told her that she would never be more than a “little thief” and she would never succeed and that her mother was of bad blood. He was constantly putting her down and making her feel inferior to the rest of the family.  She was never given much time to study or prepare her lessons and would then be punished for not being prepared. Guerda is one of the brightest children in the Restavčk Freedom home. She has already skipped two grades and works extremely hard. She has no interest in contacting her father even though we had him sign that we had the right to have her. He also has no interest in having her return home. Guerda is thriving in the program but there is much damage that she needs healing from.

Assistance for children victims of human trafficking in Haiti

International Organization for Migration IOM, 04 Dec 2006

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 25 January 2016]

After the death of his father, Daniel was torn from his sobbing mother to work in Port-au-Prince to alleviate the family's extreme poverty. In one of the capital's many shantytowns that suffer from neglected infrastructure and income-generation needs, a poor "host family" recruited Daniel as unremunerated domestic labor to fetch water from distant distribution points, among other tasks.

Daniel says he felt "not human" when preparing the children's uniforms and lunches while being denied an education himself. Despite being regularly humiliated, abused and under-fed, Daniel did not attempt to return home alone lest he be forced to join the street children.

Survival is Greatest Challenge for Haiti's Children

UNICEF Press Centre, Montreal / Madrid, 22 MARCH, 2006

[accessed 8 February 2011]

Violence and Abuse. There are thousands of street children throughout Haiti. Many children are forced to fight in gangs or become part of the restavek subculture of bonded servitude, where 300,000 children work as unpaid domestic servants. Girls account for three-quarters of these workers. - htsc

30,000 Haitian children smuggled annually

China Daily, 200511/08

[accessed 8 February 2011]

[accessed 9 February 2019]

Around 30,000 Haitian children are illegally smuggled into the Dominican Republic every year to work as child prostitutes or be forced into other degrading occupations, UN and Organization of American States (OAS) officials said on Sunday. In Haiti itself, children are recruited as gang members or are tortured, kidnapped, sexually and physically abused, abandoned and traded like personal property. - htcp

Psst! Buy Yourself A Haitian Slave-Child For A Hundred Bucks

Gary Younge, the Guardian, reporting from the Dominican Republic, 2005-09-28

[accessed 25 January 2016]

On market day in Dajabón, a bustling Dominican town on the Haitian border, you can pick up many bargains if you know where to look. You can haggle the price of a live chicken down to 40 pesos (72p); wrestle 10lb of macaroni from 60 to 50 pesos; and, with some discreet inquiries, buy a Haitian child for the equivalent of Ł54.22. There is a thriving trade in Haitian children in the Dominican Republic, where they are mostly used for domestic service, agricultural work or prostitution. - htcp

Servitude's chains steal childhoods

Gary Marx, Chicago Tribune, Port-Au-Prince Haiti, June 2, 2005

[accessed 8 February 2011]

Each day, 13-year-old Claudia Lundi wakes at 4 a.m. and begins cooking, sweeping, fetching water and doing other household chores that last until well after sunset. She sleeps on the concrete floor cushioned by a pile of clothing and eats sparingly, alone, in the kitchen. "If I don't finish my work they will beat me up," said Claudia, picking nervously at her fingernails. "They beat me with a whip all over my body." - htsc

Restavec: From Haitian Slave Child to Middle-Class American

Recollections by a former restavek, Jean-Robert Cadet 1998 in his autobiography, "Restavec: From Haitian Slave Child to Middle-Class American"

[accessed 2 September 2014]

[accessed 18 September 2016]

On average, restaveks work eighteen hours a day, seven days a week, have extremely poor health, nutrition, low educational attainment and their living conditions are appalling. They sleep on the bare floor or on a mat on the floor next to their master's bed or under the kitchen table. They use an old rolled up dress as a billow or a blanket. Restaveks wear dirty, old clothing and shoes with holes in them, sometimes too big for their small bodies. Also, they are permitted to bathe only once a week. While these children prepare meals for their masters, they are not allowed to eat with the family and must wait until everyone finishes and leaves the table in order to eat the leftovers from the meal that he or she cooked. The master requires that the child domestic use a specific plate, cup, and fork, made out of tin and bent out of shape. The restavek must wash and store these utensils separately, perhaps for a fear that he or she will contaminate the rest of the family's "good" dining equipment. The child is further separated from social life as the restavek spends virtually the entire day indoors unless he or she is fetching water, cleaning chamber pots, or visiting the market. And while indoors, he or she sits in isolation when not doing chores. These children are not allowed to speak unless their owners speak to them or permit them to speak. In addition to the daily schedule and tasks and the living conditions, these children suffer great physical and emotional danger, are beaten, tortured, raped, falsely accused and verbally assaulted. — Recollections by a former restavek, Jean-Robert Cadet 1998 in his autobiography, "Restavec: From Haitian Slave Child to Middle-Class American"

Prosecutors to seek reduction of sentence for Pines woman in slavery case

Ann W. O'Neill, Sun-Sentinel, 8 June 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 5 September 2011]

A 12-year-old girl, referred to in the indictment as "W.K.," was nicknamed "Little Hope" in South Florida's Haitian community when her plight became known five years ago. She claimed to have been beaten, raped, and forced to work as a maid and serve, since the age of 9, as a sex slave for the Pompees' son, then 20.

According to the indictment, the girl was smuggled from Haiti after her mother, who once worked there for the Pompees, died in 1996.

Haiti - Tarnished Children [DOC]

Jacky Delorme, Journalist for the International Confederation Of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), January 2004

[accessed 14 July 2013]

[accessed 28 April 2020 ]

[page 7] LESLIE - I am eleven years old. I don’t remember how long ago my mum placed me in the care of my aunt. I’m the only one to sleep on the floor in her house. Every day, I get up at 4 o’clock. I do everything. I prepare breakfast for the children, I sweep the floor, I go to collect water. And when my aunt goes to work in the market, I carry on: I go for more water, I do the washing, and I wash the dishes… One day I had a quarrel with one of my aunt’s daughters, and she whipped me for that. On another occasion I was watching television and the food that was on the cooker got burnt. I also got whipped for that. My mum lives in the province. She came to see me last Sunday, but it’s very rare. I have given up asking her to take me back with her. I know she doesn’t have enough money to feed me.

Haiti's Dark Secret: The Restavecs

National Public Radio NPR, March 27, 2004

[accessed 8 February 2011]

Haiti, a nation of only eight million people, is home to some 300,000 restavecs -– young children who are frequently trafficked from the rural countryside to work as domestic servants in the poverty-stricken nation's urban areas.

Among her other duties, Josiméne cares for two younger children, cleans the house, washes dishes, scrubs laundry by hand, runs errands and sells small items from the family's informal store. She has lived this way for over two years, since she was seven. It has been over six months since she has seen her family.

Aristide leaves Haiti

This Week in Washington with Congressman Jo Bonner, March 04, 2004

[access date unavailable]

[accessed 28 April 2020]

Haiti also has a long record of human rights and security violations. The government of that country has not fully complied with international regulations regarding the trafficking of children for both labor and sexual exploitation. As one major example, a 2003 report issued by the Organization of American States stated that between 90,000 and 300,000 children between the ages of four and 14 in Haiti and the Dominican Republic are used as unpaid domestic labor. Additionally, following a 2001 announcement of "zero tolerance" policy towards suspected criminals, the Haitian police and organized mobs committed numerous executions and lynchings. The national media was forced to self-censor itself, and many reporters either fled the country as the result of death threats or were captured and executed.

Haitian Coalition Unveils Report on Slavery and Trafficking of Haitian Children

Merrie Archer, The National Coalition for Haitian Rights NCHR, Miami, April 18, 2002

[accessed 8 February 2011]

[accessed 29 January 2018]

"Estimates reveal that as many as one out of every ten children in Haiti is a child domestic servant, known in Creole as a restavčk," said Merrie Archer, co-author of the report and Senior Policy Associate at NCHR, "and there is evidence that this practice has been carried over to the US and other places where Haitians have migrated."

Child Labour Persists Around The World: More Than 13 Percent Of Children 10-14 Are Employed

International Labour Organisation (ILO) News, Geneva, 10 June 1996

[accessed 6 September 2011]

[accessed 29 January 2018]

"Today's child worker will be tomorrow's uneducated and untrained adult, forever trapped in grinding poverty. No effort should be spared to break that vicious circle", says ILO Director-General Michel Hansenne.

Among the countries with a high percentage of their children from 10-14 years in the work force are: Mali, 54.5 percent; Burkina Faso, 51; Niger and Uganda, both 45; Kenya, 41.3; Senegal, 31.4; Bangladesh, 30.1; Nigeria, 25.8; Haiti, 25; Turkey, 24; Côte d'Ivoire, 20.5; Pakistan, 17.7; Brazil, 16.1; India, 14.4; China, 11.6; and Egypt, 11.2.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 31 January 2003

[accessed 8 February 2011]

[60] The Committee is deeply concerned at the high incidence of trafficking of children from Haiti to the Dominican Republic. The Committee is concerned that these children once they are separated from their family are forced to beg or to work in the Dominican Republic.


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 9 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – Rural families continued to send young children, particularly girls, to more affluent city dwellers to serve as restaveks in exchange for that child's room and board. While some restaveks received adequate care, including an education, the Ministry of Social Affairs believed that many employers compelled the children to work long hours, provided them little nourishment, and frequently abused them. The majority of restaveks worked in low-income homes where conditions, food, and education for non-biological children were not priorities.

The results of the most recent study of trafficking across the border conducted by UNICEF in 2002 reported that between two thousand and three thousand children were trafficked to the Dominican Republic each year.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 8 February 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - A common form of exploitive child labor in Haiti is the traditional practice of trafficking children from poor, rural areas to cities to work as domestic servants for more affluent urban families. A 2002 survey by the Fafo Institute for Applied Social Sciences estimated that 173,000, or 8.2 percent of children ages 5 to 17 years, were child domestic workers. Many domestic workers, known as restaveks, work without compensation, reach the age of 15 to 17 years without ever having attended school, are forced to work long hours under harsh conditions, and are subject to mistreatment, including sexual abuse.

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