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The Ultimate Have-Nots in a Society of Have-Nots: Child Slaves in Haiti

End Trafficking

Photographer Vlad Sokhin's series called “Restavek: Child Slavery in Haiti,’’ opens our eyes to the slavery that so plainly exists in a country that was born of slave revolts.

International advocates for children estimate that there are 250,000 restaveks in Haiti — children working as unpaid domestic servants after their parents, who cannot afford to raise them, give them away.

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  • kapalad

    Response to "Vlad Sokhin’s Photos of Haiti’s Child Servants"

    Mr. Sokhin has disgraced the honorable profession of photojournalism. His lies to the NYTimes Lens Blog about the source of his Restavek photos and his deceitful narrative that he gave to journalist Deborah Sontag to accompany the photographs is reprehensible. His slander of Mr. Lesli Zoe Petit-Phar is disgusting, self-serving, and probably in false pursuit of a Pulitzer..

    As President of a 501c3 organization working in the slums of Cite Soleil, Port au Prince since the 2010 earthquake, I’ve known Zoe for over three years and he is a good man. With regard to the child in question, the Petit-Phars took her into their home four years ago when her orphanage closed. Yes, she eats at their family table. Yes, she sleeps in a rooms with beds and other furniture. Yes, she goes to the bathroom “outside,” in an enclosed facility with a shower, Western toilet and basin. Yes, she does light house work, as most Haitian children are expected to do, but the Petit-Phars hire a Haitian woman to cook, wash and clean. Granted she is not treated nearly as well as their own 5-year-old daughter, but the Petit-Phars are not Restavek slave owners.

    The most concerning part of Mr. Sokhin’s disgraceful behavior is that his deception may deflect attention away from the real issue: 250,000 Haitian children living as Restaveks, physically and mentally abused, in a system of slavery where the “owners” pets are far better treated. SHAME ON YOU, Mr. Sorkin

    • End Trafficking

      Hi kapalad,

      Thank you for voicing your concern. We were very disappointed to learn about the misleading photos. We always strive to post accurate, timely information about relevant issues such as Restavek children in Haiti. We commend organizations on the ground working to protect and support children in Haiti, and have highlighted two of them in the posts below. Hopefully these can paint a better picture of what is happening.

  • Mia Pokriefka

    I wasn't familiar with the term Restavek prior to reading this article, so thank you for posting. It is really encouraging to see that things have changed for these kids in the past few years, but in Haiti itself, are there any plans underway for a paradigm shift in the culture?

    • End Trafficking

      Hi Mia,

      Thanks for your question. There are several groups working to address this issue in Haiti. Jean-Robert Cadet, who was a Restavek child himself, has founded an organization that helps to educate the community and put these children in school. He has worked with some popular singers to create music videos to help shift the culture around this issue. You can visit their website here:

      In addition, UNICEF works with community members and families, as well as the government, to address this issue. Through education programs they help to reunite children with their families, if that is the most appropriate option. Here's more information about what UNICEF is doing to protect Restavek children:

      • Mia Pokriefka

        So awesome. Checking out both links now! Thank you.

      • Mia Pokriefka

        So awesome. Checking out both links now! Thank you.