Laura Silsby is still sitting in a Haitian jail while a judge decides whether to order a trial on charges that she tried to take children from Haiti to the Dominican Republic who she believed were either orphaned or abandoned. The new charge is "arranging irregular travel." You will recall that she and other Idaho missionaries were in Haiti, ostensibly to try and save children left orphaned by the earthquake. The Haitians claim that Silsby and the others lacked the proper papers to remove the kids to an orphanage and that some of the children had living parents who had, apparently, asked that they be taken away in hopes they might have better lives. Haiti is a very complex place. It is also an evil place.
Fast forward to this story from PRI’s (Public Radio International) The World in which E. Benjamin Skinner, author of A Crime So Monstrous: Face to Face With Modern-Day Slavery, was interviewed about his experience with child slavery in Haiti. Child slavery. Parents selling their children for a few bucks.
As Skinner tells it he flew there and went downtown to buy a child. That didn’t take long. From his cab he ordered a young girl who would be a domestic servant and sex slave. The price – $100.
"Within two minutes I was able to negotiate the price down to $50."
"In Haiti, what we’re talking about is a very particular form of child domestic slavery. This takes place when desperately impoverished, socially isolated rural parents give their children to traffickers in hopes that their children will be able to find a better life and some degree of education. In fact, what often happens is these children wind up in brutal domestic bondage."
Over the weekend I saw one of the TV newsmagazines (can’t recall which one) report that there are likely 250,000 or more children in Haiti who have been sold into slavery. So roughly the population of Boise – only kids in slavery. And we give that government aid? They work for families as domestics and sexual slaves, having been sold by their families. When the family they have been sold to leaves for the day to go to work, they leave the slave kids outside without food, water or shelter. The Haitian government does nothing about this. Nothing. The kids are called Resteveks – and this is hardly a new problem for Haiti.
And the Haitians are still holding Silsby for trying to save children. Outrageous!
Don’t tell me that this is all the missionaries’ fault because they did not know the law in Haiti. The law in Haiti does not outlaw child slavery. Missionaries trying to save children are not a problem – they are the solution. Poverty there likely makes it more of a problem as parents wanting better lives for children "give them away or sell them" to "traders" who then peddle them on the streets like trinkets, but Silsby and the others were clearly not "traders." They and the hundreds or thousands of other Americans who went to Haiti to rescue kids are not the problem there – it is the combination of poverty and opportunity that causes child slavery.
So let’s try and raise a little hell. Go and read the report. PRI is hardly some right-wing, conservative Christian propaganda machine. If anything it "suffers" from a more "moderate" view of the world. But there is nothing moderate about child slavery. It is evil.
Let’s see if we can’t raise awareness on this subject. Laura Silsby and the rest of her group of missionaries may have been naive about the workings of the law in Haiti – but this is just cover for the Haitian government. They live in a glass house. Let’s throw some stones and work to free child slaves there.
Free Laura Silsby and let’s demand that if our money is going to Haiti they must stop child slavery.
What does this have to do with criminal defense in Boise, Idaho. Nothing – and everything. So what can we do from here!?