These Children Are Trapped In “Modern-Day Slavery”

Photographed by Vlad Sokhin / Panos
Slavery may be outlawed in most parts of the world, but that hasn't stopped the practice from continuing in new forms.
Haiti is no exception to this phenomenon.
The country is home to hundreds of thousands of restaveks, children who become at a young age entangled in an arrangement that human rights groups say equates to modern-day domestic slavery. According to the Restavek Freedom Foundation, this practice affects one in every 15 Haitian children.
Restaveks are typically born to poor parents in the countryside and given to wealthy families with the hope that they'll have better futures. Once they move in with their hosts, the children perform house chores in exchange for education and being taken care of.
But the Restavek Freedom Foundation says that many times the host family doesn't hold up their end of the deal, and the children perform menial tasks for no pay.
"With few exceptions, restavek children become slaves, working in the homes of their 'masters' from early morning until night," photographer Vlad Sokhin, who spent time in Haiti capturing the daily lives of these children, explains in an introduction to his photography project. "They fetch water [every] day, cook, wash clothes, clean yards, and do all other household chores. They are not allowed to sleep on a bed, eat at the table with the rest of the host family, or play with other children."
While the country has outlawed human trafficking, the practice is still a problem.
The 2016 Global Slavery Index ranks Haiti eighth in the world for prevalence of modern slavery by population. Today, about 407,000 children in Haiti are engaged in domestic child labor, according to a study conducted by UNICEF in partnership with more than 30 organizations. The investigation also found that 207,000 children under the age of 15 "work in unacceptable forms of domestic child labor."

Ahead, a heartbreaking look into the lives of the restavek children.

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