Haiti: After the Earthquake, p. 215
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Doing Good is Never Simple
"Doing good is never simple.... 'consider how Christian aid groups that set up 'redemption' programs to buy the freedom of slaves in Sudan drove up the market incentives for slavers to take more captives.' This dramatic example echoes in modern Haiti: the political economy of servitude underpins not only the Haiti restavek tragedy (restavek is a French reference to children sold as 'working servants' for the wealthy, where they are often abused), linked as it is to both poverty and lack of public education for all,... Growing inequality, both within countries and between them, is the linchpin of modern servitude and weakens the ability of those with the best of intentions to avoid perverse consequences. Efforts to prosecute those who rely on children for domestic labor are less likely than structural interventions- making sure that children go to school where they might receive sound instruction and at least one decent meal- to lessen the restavek problem, a symptom not of Haitian cultural uniqueness, but of poverty and inequality."