The Ultimate Have-Nots in a Society of Have-Nots

The Ultimate Have-Nots in a Society of Have-Nots

by buildingaschool

New York Times article by Deborah Sontag

View a remarkable series of photographs by Vlad Sokhin here:


It is not easy to photograph people who are invisible in their own society, to shine a light on them and at the same time reveal how unseen they are to those around them.

That is the strength of what Mr. Sokhin does, perhaps partly because he approached the subject with the outrage of a fresh eye. Born in Russia and educated in Lisbon, he now lives in Sydney, Australia, and had never set foot in the Americas, much less in Haiti, until last year.

He visited New York last fall to take part in the Eddie Adams Workshop for photojournalists and in a group exhibition. With a few free weeks between the two events, he said in a phone interview from Australia, “I thought I’d just go to Haiti and see what’s there.”

While preparing for his trip, Mr. Sokhin, who is drawn to post-disaster and post-conflict societies, happened upon the memoir of a former child servant, Jean-Robert Cadet, who is Haiti’s best-known restavek “abolitionist.” Mr. Sokhin was struck by his story. He had never heard of the restavek phenomenon, he said, and to discover that, in the 21st century, a nation born of a slave revolt was “using its own children as slaves was ridiculous to me.’’


International advocates for children estimate that there are 250,000 restaveks in Haiti — children working as unpaid domestic servants after their parents, who cannot afford to raise them, give them away.


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1 thought on “The Ultimate Have-Nots in a Society of Have-Nots

  1. Editors’ Note | Wednesday, May 22, 2013:

    After a post and a slide show about Haitian child servants were featured here and on the Home page on Monday, The Times learned that the photographer had a business relationship with the man whose family was the subject of many of the pictures. The man, Lesli Zoe Petit-Phar, had been paid $100 a day to be the photographer’s driver, guide and translator — a so-called “fixer.” Had The Times known this, it would not have published the pictures or written the post describing them. Both the post and the slide show have been removed.

    Editors for The Times spoke with the fixer, Lesli Zoe Petit-Phar, on Tuesday night. He confirmed that he had worked for the photographer, Vlad Sokhin, and he expressed concern that Mr. Sokhin had unfairly portrayed his family’s relationship with Judeline, the girl who lives with them. Mr. Petit-Phar was shown in one of the pictures being served a beer by the girl.

    Mr. Sokhin acknowledged on Tuesday night that he had failed to disclose his relationship with Mr. Petit-Phar to the reporter writing about his photographs. In fact, when the reporter asked him how he had located a family willing to be photographed with child servants, he responded that his fixer had found the family. But he did not say that it was the fixer’s family.

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