Child Trafficking in Haiti


3,000 Children Trafficked out of Haiti Annually

The American Journal Counter Punch reports that UNICEF estimates approximately 300,000 Haitian children are restavèk (child slaves) and that 3,000 children are trafficked out of Haiti each year.  However, these figures are widely considered conservative both because there are no serious studies to date on this subject and because the very definitional basis of trafficking needs to be rigorously redefined in order to more precisely represent the reality of children whose lives are bartered, traded and sold under the guise of various legal and illegal institutions.

Julian Vigo wrote “Though adoption and child slavery might seem like diametrically opposed cultural practices, they often operate in tandem with one legitimating the practice of the other (ie.  adoptions are legitimated because some perceive them as saving a child from slavery) or one covering up the other (ie.  adoptions are often exchanges of children for the sole purpose of child sexual exploitation and/or child labor).  What is also important to understand the relational dynamics between these two practices is how the seemingly innocuous practice of international adoption has fed a larger system of economic exchange between richer Western subjects and poor Haitians whereby the material exchanged is a human life, regardless of the underlying emotional and moral issues buttressing contemporary practices of adoption.”

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