With almost 60 percent of Haiti’s population living well beneath the poverty line, minors under 15-years-old are forced to take on slave-like jobs to provide for themselves and their families, El Nuevo Herald reported.
A study headed by the country’s foreign ministry showed that more than 207,000 children aged 15 and below work in the domestic service sector, even ending up in abusive households. International and Haitian laws dictate that 15 is the minimum working age, with 14 hours the maximum time stipulated for the completion of domestic chores.
Ariel Henry, Haiti’s minister of social affairs and labor, called the numbers “outrageous,” adding that unfair child labor is a complex problem that calls for change in Haitian mentalities.
The report published on Friday revealed that nearly one in four Haitians are “restavek,” a Creole term that pertains to people who live with a family that is not theirs. The families of these children send them to well-off relatives for a better life and a chance to go to school in exchange for housework.
“These children are being exploited by their fellow Haitians who believe that they are helping in this way,” said Arielle Jeanty Villedrouin, director of the Institute of Social Welfare and Research.
The minors are also burdened by psychological pressures that stem from being away from their family and the different—and mostly degrading—treatment that they receive from the family they are working for.
“We must work to change this because it is a loss not only for the children but for the whole society,” Villedrouin added.
More than 60 percent of Haiti’s population has an income of only $2.44 per day.