Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Haiti's child slaves

Today is a day of irony. Today is the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.

Yet in Haiti, the first country to be founded by slaves, the slave trade goes on today.

It plagues that country in the haunting faces of child slaves called restaveks. Restaveks are children who are handed over by their impoverished parents to wealthier families to work as servants in exchange for food, education and a bed. Many work 12-14 hour days, are beaten, and sexually abused. They are underfed, criticized, unloved. Estimates are one out of every 10 Haitian children is a restavek.

The Cobra & the Concubine, my last Egyptian book, featured Badra, a child slave. In Cobra, Badra is an adult who overcomes her traumatic past and ends up in the arms of the man who loved her for years. In real life, restaveks seldom have happy endings. I’ve met former restaveks in my travels in Haiti. I can only hope that some day all the restaveks will be free and this horrific practice will be a sad part of Haiti’s past. Naive of me to think so? Yeah. I'm a dreamer. I write romance novels. But I have hope it can happen, some day.

To find out more about child slaves in Haiti,
click on this link to read an article.

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