Haiti’s got talent.
Tamarre Joseph paces the stage, her sleek, short blue dress hugging her pencil-thin frame. She works the hometown crowd, rapping "Nap rive peyi san restavek."
The thousands in the packed stadium jump and sing along. An entire section of men take off their shirts and wave them overhead.
A rain cloud hangs ominously over the national soccer stadium in downtown Port-au-Prince, blocking the view of the mountains beyond. At one end of the stadium sits a stage with the words “Chante Pou Libete” above their English translation: “Songs for Freedom.”
"Nap rive peyi san restavek."
We will be a country without restaveks.
This concert, free to the public, was billed as a way to speak about the unspoken: Haiti’s deplorably large population of restaveks — child slaves.
It’s certainly unusual to have an American Idol-style competition for songs about slavery. And it’s definitely ironic that this event is taking place in the home of the world’s only successful slave revolt.
The 2013 Global Slavery Index ranks Haiti second in the world for modern slavery, with an estimated 200,000 to 220,000 slaves. Only Mauritania is worse. While that number includes adults, the vast majority are minors. Restavek roughly translates to “stay with” in Creole (“avec” is French for with). Often, families from the countryside send young children to live with wealthier families in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital. In exchange for a promised better life and education, the child will contribute to household chores like cooking, washing clothes and fetching water.
In thousands of cases, children are forced into servitude: They take on most, if not all, of the household work, they’re beaten and sexually assaulted, they never get the education they hoped to earn.
Photo :Frantzita Dede, who’s 19, sings “Let’s Help Them” — the child slaves of Haiti.
No thigh gap zone while in my @boohooofficial bodysuit. #nothighgapzone
Leonardo Taiwo by Taylor Glasby | Rollacoaster Magazine