By Henry Beaucejour
A very old problem
People tend to give the earthquake of 2010 the blame for everything happening in Haiti, but the problems facing the youth of this country goes back a lot further than that. One of the issues which should receive significant consideration is what exactly are the challenges which have to be addressed in order to ensure the protection of the youth in Haiti. People with knowledge about this region is fully aware of the fact that children in Haiti will always be vulnerable, which was made more apparent by the earthquake of 2010. Problems included children trafficking, which is an old problem in Haiti, but has increased after 2010. According to statistics the confusion, which followed the earthquake of 2010 resulted in a situation where over 3,000 children were separated from their parents. Those children were reportedly kidnapped from camps and was then quickly moved across the border and eventually became sexual or domestic slaves. There is a tradition in Haiti known as “restavek” where children can be sold to family by the parents in order to serve as some form of domestic slave. Apparently thousands of these restaveks were forced out by those families after the earthquake and were left with no other choice but to fend for themselves. These children became extremely vulnerable to exploitation and other forms of abuse, and continually threatened with sexual violence.
No protection for the youth
Since 2010 this situation, has gotten even worse because of youth involvement in organized gangs and in many cases come into close association with criminals who escaped during the earthquake. The sad thing about this is when those children are eventually arrested for their participation in criminal activities, they are incarcerated in ways that is not compatible with acceptable human rights standards, which suggests that children are only detained as a last resort. Furthermore those children which are arrested are then kept under very harmful conditions with no distinction made between children and adults, leaving children very vulnerable to both sexual abuse and further criminal contamination. This is a serious issue and it is one of the human rights challenges that needs an urgent solution especially as far as the juvenile justice system of Haiti is concerned.
The future of a nation
How can a country expect to survive future challenges if it does not protect its youth? An incredible amount of damage is done to young people who will be expected to take this country forward. Unless an urgent solution is found for the youth of this country, the prospects of this country is simply not good. A completely wrong culture is nurtured and the system approaches the situation in the completely wrong way. By doing so, Haiti is not addressing the real issues which are facing the youth of this country. Unless a speedy solution is found there may very soon be no future for the people of Haiti.
Henry Beaucejour – Sanftec Datacenter CEO, Founder Editor of Haititechews, Digital Innovation Strategist, Senior Business and Technology Advisors, @hbeaucejour