The Shadow of American Slavery
Long after the Haitian Revolution, slavery still reigns the life of up to half a million Haitian children. Ranking second in the new global slave index, these children are sent to homes where they face physical, emotional, and sexual abuse- 80% being girls below the age of 14.
The gruesome stories barely differ from that of American slavery as molestation is still a part of daily life. But the long illegal maneuvers performed in Haiti also alter from that of America due to different circumstances. Although America remains in denial of modern-day slavery, the statistics of the sufferance of child laborers is discordant with claims. Slavery is real, ongoing, and the lack of awareness is astonishing. Although the world today does not fully acknowledge the intimations of heinousness, the myriad slaves in Haiti have never been emancipated from labor.
The restavek system enables poor families to give their children to a wealthier one and in return receive education, shelter, food, and a better life. However, the crimes committed by misusing families are not taken into consequence. In accordance with former Haitian slave Jeannette, who has been maltreated as a child under the restavek system,”They beat me with lengths of electrical cable and punch me. Once, I was grinding a coconut and I wasn’t doing it very well so they took the knife and cut me with it.” Inhumane actions are witnessed daily in Haiti, but fear still governs the lives of the Haitian citizens. Dissipated nations like Haiti do not have the fortune of developed countries.
Although Haitian slavery was abolished in just 1791, slaves are plundered of human necessity because of the lack of enforcement. The vestiges of American slavery prove equal odium as Haitian slavery. The slaves were frequently abused, murdered, and put into the pain of forced labor. American slaves worked long, grueling days upon plantations to reap crops for the masters. Some slaves would give their unabated work from birth to death, sun-up to sun-down upon plantations– treated no better than the barn animals.
A plantation would usually have several thousand slaves–none having the value of a human. In 1865, slaves were liberated in America by Abraham Lincoln, but persisted for many years more. Today, slavery is mostly vacant from America and the pernicious actions that were once widely accepted in America are now only history. Similarly to American slavery, Haitians are put into forced labor from a young age facing the harshest consequences for the slightest mistakes. The slaves frequently die of ineffable abuse.
They aren’t treated as people, but tools. Furthermore, just the same, the young girls are often raped. The children receive no pay and lack the literacy of the other neighborhood children. As in Frederick Douglass’ early days, slaves were left oblivious of the outer world. As the masters knew, with knowledge, the slaves would gain power. Quoting Fredrick Douglass, “The more I read, the more I was led to abhor and detest my enslavers.
” But alas, as seen in American slavery, the slaves alike managed to escape, but forever scarred by physical and mental depravity. In opposition of American Slavery, Haitian slavery has been long outlawed. When slavery was even legalized in America, the Haitian slaves revolutionized in just 1791. And also different than in America, slaves in Haiti are used for household purposes opposed to plantation work. But who are these slaves? They aren’t taken into custody by race as in American history, but the slave children are sent by parents looking only for a better life for their children.
Those in poverty send their starving children to a richer family with complete reliance on hope, but hope cannot avail their children. The parents never hear from their children again and receive only a possible sense of false hope from the restavek system’s family. Although America wallows in freedom and justice, it is responsible for more than the nation alone. America is responsible for spreading good fortune to deprived, developing countries. The first step to take is to gain awareness.
As Douglass learned, awareness is empowerment. Once the initial knowledge is obtained, the journey is unstoppable. Fredrick Douglass says this best in his narrative; “All this, however, was too late. The first step had been taken. Mistress, in teaching me…, had given me the inch, and no precaution could prevent me from taking the ell.” The valuable bread of knowledge sustains hope, and promoting American awareness will give the suffering Haitian slaves the well-needed hope as the desire to help commensurates with awareness of pain.