The Créole term restavèk literally means someone who lives with another; however, in popular parlance the word is a pejorative reference to servile dependence and is categorically demeaning. Less pejorative synonyms of restavèk include timoun rann sèvis (children who render service), timoun rete kay moun (children living with others), or simply timoun (literally “child”) in which the connotation is one of an outside child rather than one’s own child (pitit or pitit zantray).
Children in domesticity, child domesticity or child servitude – synonyms for restavèk children used as unpaid domestic servants. Haitian law recognized this practice by name – “enfants en service” – as used in chapter 9 of the 1961 labor code, an article later annulled (2003). Restavèk – Unpaid child servant living and working away from home. Closely related terms include children in domesticity or child servitude. The most salient identifying feature of restavèk children is that they are treated in a manner distinctly different from pitit kay, i.e., children born to the household or who belong to the household. In principle, parental placement of a restavèk child involves turns over childrearing responsibility to another household in exchange for the child’s unpaid domestic service. Restavèk placement is generally viewed as a long term arrangement that may last for several years. The traditional expectation is that the “caretaker” household will cover the cost of sending the restavèk child to school.