Tag Archives: Haiti

Survey: 35.8 million enslaved around the world

An estimated 35.8 million people are trapped in modern slavery through human trafficking, forced labor, debt bondage, forced or servile marriage or commercial sexual exploitation.

The number is 20 percent higher than previously estimated, according to the Global Slavery Index recently published by the Walk Free Foundation, a global human rights group dedicated to ending modern slavery.

“There is an assumption that slavery is an issue from a bygone era,” said Andrew Forrest, chairman and founder of Walk Free Foundation. “Or that it only exists in countries ravaged by war and poverty. These findings show that modern slavery exists in every country.”

The index shows that Mauritania has the highest proportion of its population in modern slavery, at 4 percent, followed by Uzbekistan at 3.97 percent, Haiti at 2.3 percent, Qatar at 1.36 percent and India at 1.14 percent.

In terms of absolute numbers, India has the highest number of enslaved people — an estimated 14.29 million, followed by China (3.24 million), Pakistan (2.06 million), Uzbekistan (1.2 million) and Russia (1.05 million).

Together these nations account for 61 percent of the world’s modern slavery, or nearly 22 million people.

Forrest said, “The first step in eradicating slavery is to measure it. And with that critical information, we must all come together — governments, businesses and civil society — to finally bring an end to the most severe form of exploitation.”

Demonstrators threaten to burn parliament if Haiti legalizes gay marriage

More than 1,000 people in Haiti participated on July 19 in a rare street demonstration to protest homosexuality and a proposal to legalize gay marriage in the Caribbean nation.

The protest brought together a mix of religious groups, from Protestant to Muslim, who carried anti-gay placards and chanted songs, including one in which they threatened to burn down parliament if its members make same-sex marriage legal.

A Haitian gay rights group has said it plans to submit a proposal allowing homosexuals to wed.

“I believe in God, and God condemns homosexuality,” said protester Eddy Jean-Pierre, a self-described Protestant. “Haiti is not going to accept this, and God will punish us further if we allow this law to pass.”

The demonstration organized by several religious groups, including one calling itself the Haitian Coalition of Religious and Moral Organizations, came two days after watchdog groups held a news conference to condemn what they say is an increase in threats against gays in the country. They also took issue with plans for the protest.

The coalition of religious groups said three weeks ago that it opposed recent laws in other countries supporting gay marriage.

Haiti’s gay and lesbian community is small and has long kept a low-profile because of a strong social stigma that sparks fears of physical violence and loss of employment.

Gay rights groups in Haiti say that members of the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community often don’t report rights violations to authorities out of fear of reprisal. Those people also have suffered overt discrimination from law enforcement and judicial authorities, particularly in Port-au-Prince, the U.S. State Department said in a 2012 report on human rights in Haiti.

Mayoral candidate ‘endorsed by Jesus Christ’ loses North Miami race

A candidate who campaigned for mayor in North Miami, Fla., claiming she had was endorsed by Jesus Christ failed to make the runoff in the May 14 election.

Anna Pierre campaigned in a lively city election that saw no candidate on the ballot receive a majority vote. She sought the office of mayor, but didn’t make the runoff, which will be held between Lucie Tondreau, a community activist, and Kevin Burns, a former mayor.

Still, Pierre, who came to the United States from Haiti in 1981, is the candidate who made national headlines.

Pierre also goes by Princess Anna Pierre and is a musician and registered nurse. In 2003, she opened a people’s clinic in North Miami to help provide medical services and care to uninsured people and she’s received an honor for care for people living with HIV in south Florida.

She campaigned on a platform that called for “free health care for the uninsured, employment and job creation, crime prevention and intervention, education.”

On her Facebook page and in a campaign circular, she said she had the endorsement of Jesus. She told the Miami Herald that he visited her in a dream.

LGBT groups send aid to Haiti

International and national LGBT and HIV/AIDS groups are exporting hope, not homophobia, to Haiti.

Organizations such as the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Campaign, New York’s Aid for AIDS and Houston’s Rainbow Relief are providing alternatives to donating to faith-based organizations with poor records on LGBT rights. They’re focusing their efforts on supporting healthcare in the Caribbean country, which was devastated Jan. 12 by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake.

“The earthquake has been catastrophic for every sector, including Haiti’s LGBT community,” said IGLHRC executive director Cary Alan Johnson, who visited the country in 2009.

The Haitian government, as of Jan. 23, estimated that 200,000 people died, 250,000 suffered injuries and some 2 million were homeless in a nation of 9 million.

As the focus in Haiti shifted from rescuing people from rubble to caring for the injured and feeding and sheltering the homeless, community groups at the international, national and local levels focused on raising money and supplies to fend off epidemics, treat the wounded and care for the sick.

The Pan American Health Organization said hospitals and mobile clinics needed more surgeons, nurses, supplies, and better sanitation and water.

GLBT and HIV/AIDS activists shared concerns for Haitians living with HIV/AIDS — and their inability to access treatment. About 120,000 Haitians — a conservative estimate — are living with the disease.

SEROvie, which provides HIV/AIDS services to the GLBT community in Haiti, was hosting a support group when the earthquake struck. “The sound is unforgettable,” said SEROvie director Steve La Guerre. “I can’t even describe the horror as the ceiling and the wall of the conference room started to fall.”

La Guerre said 14 men participating in the group died, two participants survived. “Light a candle for these souls and for Haiti,” he said, adding that SEROvie needs food, clothes “and any type of help.”

IGLHRC responded, raising about $10,000 in the first days following the quake. Aid for AIDS collected unused HIV drugs, as well as antibiotics, antivirals and antiallergics. Also, the Metropolitan Community Church established the Disaster Relief Fund to help the MCC congregation in the neighboring Dominican Republican, which has a number of Haitian members.

“The level of distress is indescribable,” said the Rev. Tania Guzman, pastor of the MCC church in the Dominican Republic.

“What we will need is both the spiritual and the physical support to rebuild lives and communities. There are no walls to tear down here; only the work of building up hope again.