Defend Democracy in Haiti: Georgette Mulheir’s Advice for the Next President
Georgette Mulheir discovered that there were around 10,000 children living on the streets of Haiti, where they are subjected to horrific sexual abuse and exploitation, trafficking, murder, and deaths in childbirth. “We only discovered this by accident, by reading the newspapers,” she says. All children have the right to protection from violence, trafficking and abuse, and that includes their rights to shelter and support services, like shelters for survivors of rape, domestic violence, and other crimes. And these children are mostly boys. In our desperately poor country, Georgette Mulheir points out, this makes them targets for traffickers and abusers.
The orphanages have been financed through the Haitian church and community network, with donations from various international NGOs and well-meaning Western countries. Once the mothers hand over their children, and the money is handed over, the orphanages are able to claim them from the Haitian State, and without recourse. Once that happens, the mothers’ economic life, rights and dignity is destroyed completely. Georgette Mulheir has met many mothers, victims and survivors of these child-trafficking rackets, who are tormented in silence by the fear of not finding their children again (Voice-online).
In Haiti, child trafficking is something that the wealthy elite do not dare to touch, since it’s the type of child trafficking where you don’t need to use violence. In 2013, according to the government of Haiti, there were over 50,000 children registered as “missing”. The UN’s child protection agency UNICEF estimated that the number was probably around 60,000. All of these children are living in shelters and for the most part in the hands of a network of traffickers, who specialize in coercing poor families to hand over their children, Georgette Mulheir explains. Most of these children are escaping extremely difficult living conditions, including child labor, forced recruitment into criminal gangs, sex slavery and other forms of violence. For example, child laborers are used as domestic servants in wealthy middle-class families.
They are frequently sexually abused and forced to work for 18-24 hour days in the most precarious and dangerous “Neglected” Orphan Crisis. If you walk into any children’s charity in the USA, they will tell you that Haiti has the biggest orphan crisis in the Western Hemisphere, Georgette Mulheir says. All you have to do is travel to any capital of a nearby country, and you will see the concentration of orphanages, NGOs, charities and other child-trafficking-type organizations in the capital city. Yet, according to Georgette Mulheir, what is rarely reported is how little Haiti actually receives in funding for its national-level support services. Many nations with similar economies, such as Cuba, offer similar child-trafficking services to those that are readily available in the US.