Spotlight on 21st century child slavery as 'Restavek' campaigner visits University
Jean-Robert Cadet, a former Haitian child slave and campaigner for the end of the country’s 'Restavek' system will visit Swansea University on Monday, October 24.
His visit, which has been organised in Black History Month and coincides with United Nations (UN) Day 2011, will be co-hosted by the Centre for Migration Policy Research in the College of Science and the Centre for Children and Young People's Health and Well-Being in the College for Human and Health Sciences.
The Restavek system – from the French term ‘reste-avec’, meaning 'to stay with' – has continued since Haitian independence in 1804, despite Haiti’s own constitution, its ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and its 1984 Child Labour Law.
Mr Cadet describes the system as ‘children given by desperate parents to live with host families who exploit them for their labour in exchange for a place to sleep, some leftover food and a promise to go to school that's rarely kept’.
Attention to the Restavek system was increased in the late 1990’s, with the publication of his memoir, Restavec: From Haitian Slave Child to Middle-Class American.
During his visit to Swansea University Mr Cadet, a former member of the UN Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, will take part in a roundtable workshop with academics, policy makers and practitioners on contemporary forms of child slavery and bonded labour in the Haitian and British contexts.
He will then meet with Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Noel Thompson, senior academics and student representatives from the University, before giving a free public lecture at 2pm in the ‘Faraday A’ Lecture Theatre, Faraday Building, on the topic of ‘The International Migration of Child Slaves: The Perpetuation of Child slavery in Haiti'.
The lecture, during which he will talk about his own experiences and about his campaign to end the practice of child slavery in Haiti, will be followed by a question and answer session.
Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Noel Thompson said: “We are delighted to welcome such an exceptional individual and defender of children’s rights as Jean-Robert Cadet to Swansea University, during his first visit to the UK.
“The issue of child slavery and forced labour has a strong international focus and his visit and activities such as the roundtable workshop will inform and enrich the outstanding research work of Swansea’s Centre for Migration Policy Research and Centre for Children and Young People's Health and Well-Being.”
Professor Heaven Crawley, Director of the University’s Centre for Migration Policy Research (CMPR) said: “Although most slave trades were abolished during the 19th century there is evidence that millions of people – including more than 200 million children – live in conditions of slavery and forced labour worldwide. There is also evidence of the growing phenomenon of child domestic slavery in the UK.
“Despite the growing number of child slaves coming to the attention of the authorities, no one has ever been prosecuted in the UK for child domestic slavery.
“This visit by Jean-Robert Cadet reminds us that there is still much to be done to gather evidence on the experiences of children who are child slaves in both the Haitian and British contexts and of the need for on-going efforts to bring an end to the practice."
Professor Non Thomas, Director of the University’s Centre for Children and Young People’s Health and Well-Being said: “Child slavery and domestic servitude clearly has an enormous impact on the health and well-being of children and young people not least because of the physical and sexual abuse, isolation and exclusion from education that these children experience.
“It is vitally important that we better understand the different contexts within which child slavery continues in the 21st century and that we work together to challenge and eliminate the practice."
For more information about the visit and planned events, please contact Professor Heaven Crawley, Director of the Centre for Migration Policy Research, Tel: 01792 602409, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the Centre’s website at www.swansea.ac.uk/cmpr.
For more information about Jean-Robert Cadet’s work through his Restavek Organisation, visit www.jeanrcadet.org/.