How to Buy a Child in 10 Hours

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Offering Fake Papers and a 'Pretty' Child

And then, to show that this grotesque sort of deal-making is not a fluke, I have a second meeting, with another trafficker -- a beefy guy with the air of a street thug.

This second trafficker is asking a much steeper price for an 11-year-old girl: $10,000.

"It's something definitive," explains our translator. "After the sale, he doesn't mind what happens to the kid."

"So for $10,000, I can have the child and do anything I want to do is what he's saying?" I ask.

"Yeah, definitely."

As further enticement, the trafficker says he can even get me fake papers that would allow me to take this child back to the U.S. with me. Both traffickers say they have experience providing children to Americans. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, officials have no idea how often this sort of transaction transpires.

As the slightly menacing slave trafficker describes this girl he's promising to provide, I hear him use the French word "belle." French, along with Creole, is one of Haiti's official languages.

"Did he use the word 'belle'? Like, pretty girl?" I ask the translator.

"Yeah."

"So he's saying this would be a pretty child?"

"Yeah."

"Do you think he's hinting that the child would be a partner of some sort?"

"Yeah, it's up to you because that kid is yours."

Once again, I can't believe I'm having this conversation -- sitting in the sunshine so casually transacting such diabolical business. Just to make sure I fully understand the offer on the table, I ask, "If I pay $10,000 I essentially own this child?"

"Yeah, it's yours. You do whatever you want."

I've heard enough. I conclude the meeting, once again making sure the trafficker doesn't actually act on my request.

But now comes the craziest part of this wildly disturbing day.

Two waiters sitting nearby call me over. They say they've heard my conversations. At first I think they're going to yell at me or something. I'm bracing for shame. Instead, the waiters offer to sell me a child.

"So you're saying if I want to get a child to live with me, you can help me?" I ask. "Yes," says one of the waiters. "I give you my telephone also."

"About what age?" asks the other watier.

"Maybe 10, 11 years old."

"10 or 11?"

"Yeah," I say. "A girl."

"Ok," says the first waiter, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. "Ok. I'll help you."

The 'Restaveks'

Having illustrated how horrendously easy it is to buy a child slave in Haiti, let's consider something exponentially more awful: the real scandal here in Haiti is that children are usually just given away.

There are an estimated 300,000 child slaves in Haiti according to UNICEF. This staggering statistic is discussed in E. Benjamin Skinner's "A Crime So Monstrous," a new book about the enormous and often underreported problem of modern day slavery. Click Here to read an excerpt. Skinner has come to Haiti with us. He was the one who gave us the idea to see how long it would take to leave New York City and buy a child slave.

They're called "restaveks" -- a Creole term that means "stay-with." But these children often do more than just "stay with" families; they are usually forced to work from dawn until dusk, and are often underfed, beaten and sexually abused.

To meet some of these restaveks, my team and I traveled into the claustrophobic back alleys of one of Haiti's worst slums, Solino.

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