Sunday, February 7, 2010

Exploitation of Haitian Children Increases

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, (UPI) -- Haiti's earthquake has increased the risk of some orphanages being used as providers of child servants and sex slaves, authorities said.

The problems of Haiti's overwhelmed child welfare system have intensified since the quake, with suspect orphanages exploiting children through organized criminal networks, The New York Times reported Sunday.

The quake drove hundreds of thousands of people from their damaged homes, with many families surrendering children to orphanages ranging from well-equipped buildings with international financing to one-room shacks.

The arrest last weekend of 10 U.S. citizens trying to leave Haiti with 33 children focused attention on the issue. While there is no evidence the Americans intended harm, their case showed how it easy it was for children to be rounded up and taken away, the Times said.

"There are many so-called orphanages that have opened in the last couple of years that are not really orphanages at all," said Frantz Thermilus, the chief of Haiti's National Judicial Police.

UNICEF estimates tens of thousands of Haitian children are sold each year as servants, sex slaves and farm workers to well-off Haitian families and for work in the neighboring Dominican Republic and other countries.

© 2010 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Source: UPI

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