Jean-Robert Cadet

Haitian abolitionist and former child restavec, or forced domestic slave.

Jean-Robert Cadet is an advocate for children enslaved in the Haitian restavec (forced domestic servitude) system and the founder of the Jean R. Cadet Restavek Organization, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization dedicated to ending child slavery in Haiti. At the age of four, Cadet became a restavec and remained a domestic servant until he was 15, when his owners immigrated to the United States. His owner subsequently expelled him from their household after discovering he was to attend school alongside their own children.

Cadet was born in Haiti to a wealthy white father and an impoverished black mother. After the death of his mother, Cadet was "given" to another Haitian family as a child servant, or restavec. Emotionally, verbally, physically and sexually abused by his masters, he was forced to work long hours and was often “’loaned” to neighbors and friends to work for them. The restavec system is still an institution of Haitian society, primarily due to poverty, overpopulation, lack of access to education, and political and societal acceptance of the practice.

Cadet finished high school in the U.S, joined the U.S. Army, and earned a master’s degree in French literature. He is the author of two books, his acclaimed memoir, “Restavec: From Haitian Slave Child to Middle Class American”, one of the few books written by a survivor of contemporary slavery and “My Stone of Hope: From Haitian Slave Child to Abolitionist.”

In 2016, Cadet was a speaker at the Human Rights Foundation’s (HRF) first international College Freedom Forum (CFF) at Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala City. Cadet continues to raise awareness of restavec by speaking to schools and government organizations around the world.