HAITI'S INDENTURED CHIlDREN
THE DAYS AFTER HAITI'S EARTHQUAKE brought joyous reunions for some families. Others faced the grim reality that they'd been suddenly robbed of parents or offspring. But for Haiti's 225,000 restaveks, or indentured children, the quake brought only an uncertain future.
Slavery-which ended with independence in 1804-is illegal in Haiti. And technically, restaveks are not slaves. The institution has its roots in the Caribbean tradition of child lending between families (usually relatives) to pitch in with extra work, care for the elderly or sick, or to provide opportunity to a child from a poor family. Generally, rural parents send their children to live with wealthier families in the cities. In exchange for domestic labor, the children are supposed to receive lodging, food, clothing, medicine, and-most importantly-education. In as many as half of the cases, they do (though classifying treatment in private homes is notoriously difficult). The unlucky ones, called restaveks-from the French rester avec, or "to stay with" -are loaned through normal channels but denied schooling and subject to abuse and degradation. This phenomenon has spiked in modern Haiti, as more and more children end up with equally impoverished families in the slums.
Before the quake, up to 22 percent of Haitian homes contained restaveks, according to a study funded by USAID. Keeping restaveks is illegal, but child loans are not and, given the extent of Haiti's governmental dysfunction, it's hard to tell which cases are which. Now that the quake has thrown family networks into disarray, the flimsy social ties supporting restaveks are likely to break down. "For families struggling in the wake of a catastrophe, restavek kids are the first to go; says Glenn Smucker, an anthropologist who specializes in development work in Haiti. "Their parents are not there to watch out for them, so they're far more vulnerable" to desertion and trafficking.
But even as the numbers of abandoned restaveks swell, the demand for their services is likely to decrease. A mass exodus of residents from Port-au-Prince is reversing decades of migratory trends. If the shift sticks, it means there will be less need for restaveks in the city. But it's also possible that families suffering from the quake's economic aftershocks will feel extra pressure to lend out their children, even as it becomes more likely they'll end up as restaveks. Which, combined with a spike in new orphans, means Haiti will likely see a rise in the number of its street children in the years to come.
(By Katie Paul - Newsweek)
De acordo com o texto, o Haiti tenta resolver o problema das crianças cujos pais morreram no terremoto
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