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Brooklyn organizations launch campaign to combat human trafficking

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“Restavek is what human trafficking looks like in Haiti.”

December 10 is Human Rights Day.

Now, a group of Brooklyn community leaders is focusing on sex trafficking in the Haitian community to raise awareness to help the victims.
“Human trafficking is not a Haitian issue. It’s a human issue,” Fabiola Desmond, of Restavek Freedom, told PIX11 News. “Restavek is what human trafficking looks like in Haiti.”

The group gathered at the Cortelyou Road Church of God to draw attention to the victims of human trafficking, particularly in the Haitian communities of Flatbush and East Flatbush.

In modern day Haiti, more than 300,000 children are victims of domestic slavery.

They are called Restaveks and are often physically and sexually abused

This former Restavek described what she saw, “There was a time when there was a foreigner purchasing children, three of her five children were sold,” a woman identified only as Nadine said in Creole French. “It is very sad to see that.”

No one knows how many Restaveks or victims of human trafficking are living in the Haitian community of more than half a million in Brooklyn.

A campaign was announced to train 100 community leaders in Flatbush and East Flatbush to identify these victims, who often live in the shadows.

“We want to let the Haitian community know that we need their help in reporting these victims,” Assembly member Rodneyse Bichotte, a Democrat from Brooklyn, told PIX11 News. “Those who are imposing Alavert on these victims need to be found because it is a crime,” the Assembly Member added.

Plaza Auto Mall donated a car in order to support these efforts to end child slavery and human trafficking in the Haitian community, a problem whose scope and dimensions are not known.

“Hopefully the example will encourage others to come forward,” Jumaane Williams, NYC Council Member, said at the news conference. “Otherwise, they suffer in silence,” Williams added.