Haiti: Child domestic workers live as virtual slaves‏

18.11.2009 10:24

Amnesty International Press release
18 November 2009

Authorities in Haiti must enact legislation to protect children working as domestic help in conditions that amount to slavery, said Amnesty International ahead of Universal Children’s Day.

Amnesty International launched a campaign on Wednesday to press the government in Haiti to enact measures to protect child domestic workers from abuse, ill-treatment and exploitation.

Many Haitian families, too poor to support their children, are forced to send them to work as domestic help. The children -- most of them girls -- end up working long hours cleaning, cooking, fetching water for the whole household and looking after other children in the family.

“Most child domestic workers in Haiti live as virtual slaves,” said Gerardo Ducos, Haiti researcher at Amnesty International. “They work in inhuman conditions, suffering violence and abuse by their hosts, only for a plate of food.”

UNICEF estimated that there were as many as 100,000 girl domestic workers in Haiti in 2007.

Trapped in a situation of total dependence, many girls are compelled to put up with violence and sexual abuse. Some flee the employer or host family and live on the streets where they may have no option but to sell their bodies for sex in order to survive.

15-year-old Régina told Amnesty International that when she was 10, she was sent to work as a domestic servant, but she ran away because the beatings became unbearable. She spent the next four years at Foyer Maurice Sixto, a shelter for children who have been domestic workers. During that time she was able to go to school. When she turned 14, Régina went back home, were she suffered further abuse.

“Girls in Haiti are trapped in a spiral of poverty and violence,” said Gerardo Ducos. ”The eradication of this modern form of slavery is the only way to protect the rights of thousands of children."

Haitian laws do not provide a protective framework for children.

In 2003, the Law for the prohibition and elimination of all kind of abuses, violence and inhuman treatment of children came into force. This law removed a chapter of the Labor Code that regulated the work of children in domestic service but failed to ban the practice of children in domestic service.

The Code had prohibited the “employment” of children under 12 as domestic workers and had provided guarantees that those aged over 15 would receive a salary for their work. The Code required foster families, among other things, to request authorization from the Institute of Social Welfare and Research if they wished to employ a child as domestic worker.

“Ahead of Universal Children’s Day, Haiti should step up its commitment to the protection of girl domestic workers and take concrete steps to improve their situation,” said Gerardo Ducos.
 

Human Rights Education Associates (HREA) is an international non-governmental organisation that supports human rights learning; the training of activists and professionals; the development of educational materials and programming; and community-building through on-line technologies.

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Helping victims of human trafficking is as simple as talking to a friend. Host an event and invite the community to discuss the exploitation of human beings. At this campaign, we are eager to spread the word and we'd like to talk at any community event about human trafficking and victim identification.

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Date: 06/30/2016 Description: Trafficking in Persons Report 2016. - State Dept Image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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-Trafficking in Persons Report 2016 -- Complete Report (PDF)
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These are some of the things you can do to help fight human trafficking:

Be informed! Educate yourself about human trafficking by reading about it. Follow events in the news. Keep your eyes open - human trafficking is happening all around us.

Raise awareness! Talk to friends, family and colleagues. You could even start talking to your local politicians and authorities.

Get involved! Participate in an anti-trafficking movement in your area and get involved in its activities and campaigns (e.g. hold events, distribute posters, leaflets etc.) in your neighborhood and in schools.

Encourage businesses! Be a responsible consumer! Inform yourself on the labour policies of companies to ensure their products are free from slave labour and other forms of exploitation. If possible, buy fair trade products.

Seek support! If you suspect that someone has been trafficked report it to the institutions or assistance facilities dealing with human trafficking in your area.

 

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