Five Facts About Haiti That May Surprise You 

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People are coming from Haiti to Massachusetts in droves.

These people are coming here to capitalize on the state’s right-to-shelter law, which lacks a residency requirement and provides them with free housing, including long-term stays at hotels.

There has been much news coverage about the poverty, political instability, and gang violence plaguing Haiti — all of which are tragic problems that need addressing.

However, there are also some things about Haiti that you might not know. Here are five facts about the Caribbean country that may surprise you:


1.  Almost No One Has The COVID Vaccine

Just 2.2 percent of the population in Haiti is fully vaccinated against coronavirus, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development; only 3.4 percent had even one vaccine against the virus (of a vaccine like AstraZeneca, Pfizer, or Moderna, as one shot of Johnson & Johnson counts as fully vaccinated).

The reason? People in Haiti don’t want it.

“As COVID-19 safety restrictions are lifted in other countries, Haitians interpret that news as a sign COVID-19 is no longer a health concern,” USAID’s web site said. “Furthermore, the long-standing political and economic crises in the country are worsened, with armed gang violence, kidnappings, and fuel shortages. These daily threats and vulnerabilities make getting a COVID-19 vaccine a low priority.”


2.  Abortion Is Illegal

The child-killing practice known as abortion is never permitted in Haiti, according to Axios

It is one of six countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that has outlawed abortion.

Here is an English translation of what the country’s criminal code says about abortion:


Art. 262. Whoever, through food, drink, drugs, violence, or by any other means, procures the abortion of a pregnant woman, whether she has consented or not, will be punished by imprisonment.

The same penalty will be pronounced against the woman who will have procured the abortion herself, or who will have consented to use the means indicated or administered to her, if the abortion is followed.

The doctors, surgeons and other health officials, as well as the pharmacists who indicated or administered these means, will be sentenced to the penalty of forced labor in time, in the case where the abortion took place.


Information on how long the criminal penalty for an abortion in Haiti could not immediately be located.


3.  Trangenderism Is Not Recognized

There’s no such thing as government recognition of transgenderism in Haiti.

Nothing in Haitian law recognizes so-called gender identity as valid, according to Outright International.

While much of the country opposes transgenderism, one portion doesn’t, according to Advocate:  Voodoos.

About 2 percent of the country identifies with the Voodoo religion, though larger numbers of Haitians identify with cultural elements of the faith.


4.  Longstanding Independence

Haiti is the second-oldest republic in the Western Hemisphere, according to the U.S. State Department. Only the United States is older. Haiti won its independence from France in 1804 — meaning that this is the 220th year that Haiti has been an independent country. 

For reference, the United States declared its independence from the United Kingdom of Great Britain in 1776 — 28 years before Haiti became an independent country.


5.  Child Selling Widespread

Something that effectively constitutes child slavery is widespread in Haiti.

Some people are so poor in Haiti that they sell their children to domestic servants for wealthier families. About 25 percent of Haitian children five years old or older do not live with their biological parents. That’s largely due to this practice of creating child domestic servants known as restavèks.

Restavèks are “child domestic servants who perform unpaid labor,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Restavèks children face physical and sexual abuse at far higher rates than children who are not unpaid domestic servants.


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