Saturday, February 06, 2010

Haitian orphans, redux: Because I wish I had been wrong the first time (by Skylanda)

A week or so ago I wrote about the fetishization of Haitian orphans (everyone wants one! they’re so darling, with that sweet little vulnerability!). At the time, it was a theoretical thang – no one was publically evac’ing orphans out off the island that hadn’t already been assigned adopted families elsewhere – based on an age-old ick about what happens to poor minority children when well-meaning folks from dominant classes decide to think they’re a little too cute.

Then along came the Eastside Baptist Church of Twin Falls, Idaho, whose members took it upon themselves to transport thirty three Haitian children across the Dominican border, sans documentation of any right to do so (nor any evidence of the orphan-hood of the children, several of whom – oops – happened to have parents).

Now, I don’t really care about the fundamentalist aspect of this. These fine specimens of humanity could be evangelical atheists or die-hard pagans or jack Scientologists for all I care; I am not concerned beyond a passing wave of nausea about their spiritual motivations. Nor am I terribly taken with what pernicious promises were made about tennis courts and swimming pools when all those missionaries had was an abandoned hotel across the Dominican border.

But these people should have every ounce of legal bookage thrown at them, and they should spend some hefty sum of time in a Haitian prison, whatever teetering form a Haitian prison may take these days.


Because these people were trafficking children. And because right now, in a chaotic disaster like Haiti, it needs to be made 100% absolutely clear, without a trace of a doubt, in a resoundingly public forum, that any and all forms of trafficking will not be tolerated.

Human trafficking is up there in the top three most lucrative illicit trades in the world, right after guns and drugs. Even the US State Department has issued statements on how it will monitor and prevent trafficking during the disaster transition period – a time when disconnected children are particularly vulnerable to predators looking for everything from domestics to sex slaves.

Americans trafficking children need to go to jail to establish the notion that the authorities of all nations are absolutely and unequivocably serious about preventing the movement of children out of Haiti without proper paperwork, the separation of children from parents under false pretenses, the offering of children with living parents up for adoption abroad, and anything else that even remotely smacks of unethical use of children. This routine post-disaster travesty needs to be curtailed, viciously, now. And throwing a ridiculously harsh sentence at the most entitled of travelers – wealthy white Americans – will send a message that anyone further down the privilege foodchain best think twice before considering the small profit to be made of this odious industry.

And the religious nuttery that drove these folks in the first place? Eh, that’s all getting enough of a crucifixion in the popular press; I need not say anything more on that topic.

Cross-posted from my infrequently-updated blog, Loose Chicks Sink Ships.