Haiti: Restavek

“In the truest definition of the word it means ‘one who stays with'”: Tara at The Livesay Haiti Weblog says that the Restavek system “might be one of the most frustrating ones of all for me to accept. The fact that children are used for labor and for the benefit of adults is beyond incomprehensible.”

1 comment

  • C Smith-Brown

    When we look around the world at the social systems in place underwhich children are forced to be socialized, many are incomprehensible. However, we cannot isolate this social status from the context of the whole. When we look at the economic plight of most Haitians, which has been imposed through external means, and internal compliance, what would you do to eliminate the poverty, lack of resources, and limitations placed upon the Haitian people? What would you replace the restaveck status with, in a country where Haitians are not in control of their own destiny?

    Before we dismantle a system that goes against everything we know to be humane, we must have a better system for the whole of Haiti. One that takes into account not just the so called “slave” status of children, but one that honestly looks at the conditions of the entire country, its economy, its government, and the desires of the people. We can no longer look at the world with biased perspectives. We don’t have all the answers, if we did, this would be a better world.

    Common sense tell me that there must be a better way. But experience and wisdom tell me that theory is not always functional when applied. One must eliminate the conditions that create a need for this type of social order. We must allow the Haitian people the opportunity to at some point build their nation into the nation they want to have. We must stop making judgements on a situation, without considering all the factors that have caused it to be.

    We have a short memory. Into the early 1900s, children in the USA were socialized as a labor force, and before 1865 they were also enslaved under much more harsh conditions,and subjected to things you and I have only read about. Still in this country, there is both localized and foreign child slavery.

    If it took the “first world” into the 20th century to begin their journey toward a more humane world, why should the “third world” be so advanced?

    All children should have a life free of the effects of poverty, greed, and corruption. But those that came before us, and those of our generation have not made the necessary sacrifices to make this a reality. We have allowed the welfare of children to take a back seat to our own desires for lifestyles that ignore the plight of the poor, the uneducated, and the voiceless.

    Change these conditions and the social order will evolve on its own.

    …just my 2 cents…

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.