The epidemic increases child labor, but remains neglected in Brazil

Child labor data in Brazil is outdated. Experts talk about the importance of under-reporting and pressuring public sector to deal with problems during an epidemic

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By Iara de Andrade

Child labor is “any type of work, whether paid or not, performed by children and adolescents below the legal minimum age permitted to enter the labor market in accordance with the laws of each country”, the reporter noted in the content of Brussels. Child labor “Mid-childhood – child labor in Brazil today” “Escravo, name Pensa!” Based on the program, the country is the first to prevent slave labor.

In Brazil, work is permitted:

  • From the age of 18, in any case;
  • From the age of 16, in a protected manner; And
  • From the age of 14, within the rules of apprentice law.

Get into the epidemic

Data from the Continuous National Household Sample Survey (PNAD Continua), edited by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), published in 2020, states that In 2019, 1.8 million children and adolescents were in child labor.

There is no specific information on the coronavirus epidemic in Brazil as a whole. However, according to Bruna Ribeiro, journalist, project manager of “Krianka Lever de de Trabalho Infantil” and author of the book “Meninos Malabares – Retratos do Trabalho Infantile no Brussels”, it can be said that child labor has increased. In times of health crisis ..

“The effects of the epidemic were huge in the face of declining inequality. So, we know that hunger has increased, school dropouts have increased and child labor has resulted, ”he says.

The Brazilian Research Network on Food and Nutrition Sovereignty and Security (Pension Network) conducted a national survey on food security.3 In the context of the Covid-19 epidemic in Brazil. The survey, titled “Olhe Para a Fome”, published in April 2021, shows that 55.2% of 2,180 households were consulted, living in all regions of the country, from 5 to 24 December 2020, living in food insecurity.

Bruna recalls that as of November 2020, more than 5 million girls and boys between the ages of 6 and 17 had no access to education in the country. The previous year, in 2019, the number was 1.1 million children out of school. The journalist says that child labor is directly related to the state of social vulnerability.

“We know that working children are children of socially vulnerable families. Thus, social inequality increases, unemployment increases, hunger increases, school exclusion increases, and consequently, child labor increases, ”he explained.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) conducted a survey in S সাo Paulo as part of a report on global child labor estimates and found that there is a Child labor in the city has increased by 26%Between May and July 2020.

The federal government has stopped publishing national numbers in 2018, 2019 and again in 2021.

The worst form of child labor

At the 87th session of Convention 182, presented by the International Labor Organization (ILO), in 1999, in Geneva, Switzerland, the so-called TIP list is a classification that determines the worst forms of child labor. Accepted in different countries, the list includes: all forms of child labor, child prostitution and trafficking, recruitment and supply of children for illegal activities (such as drug trafficking), or work that may harm children’s health, safety or morals.

Approved in 2008, by decree nº 6.481 / 2008, in Brazil, 93 worst forms of child laborAttended various events:

  • 35 industry and conversion;
  • 11 in agriculture, livestock, forests and forestry;
  • 9 in collective, social, personal and other services;
  • 6 in the extraction industry;
  • 4 fishing;
  • 4 health and social services;
  • 4 Harmful acts for morality; And
  • 3 transport and storage;

Production and distribution of electricity, gas and water; Construction; Trade and domestic services each present a form.

Other activities include: car maintenance and washing; Use of sharp instruments; In the cold room; Lifting, transporting and loading; Solar radiation, rain or cold exposure; At a height of more than two meters; Continuous and uninterrupted sound exposure; Exposure to arsenic and its compounds; Confined space Sharpen metal tools and instruments; Direction and operation of vehicles, machinery and equipment; Radiation exposure; And maintenance and repair of electrical equipment and tools.

Normalization of child labor by society

Child labor is based on a historical chronology and is directly related to the period of slavery in Brazil. Signed by Princess Isabel, the “Free Pregnancy Act” on September 28, 1871 declared free the children of enslaved women who would be born from its proclamation. However, the second paragraph says:

“These minors will be in power or under the authority of their mothers, who will be obliged to raise and treat them until they are eight years old. When the slave’s child reaches this age, the mother-owner will have the option, either to receive 600 $ 000 compensation from the state, or to use the services of a minor up to the age of 21. In the first case, the government will accept the minor and dispose of him / her in accordance with current law. The above mentioned financial compensation will be paid in the form of income bond with 6% annual interest, which will be considered void at the end of 30 years. The announcement of the master must be made within 30 days, against which the minor has reached the age of eight years and, if he does not do so, it will be understood that he has chosen to use the services at his discretion. The same minor.

§2 These minors may be relieved of the burden of any services, by proceeding to the evaluation of the services for the remainder of the period of financial compensation, which he pays to his mother’s master, if there is no agreement on the same amount of compensation.

In other words: if the slave master chooses to free the child at the age of eight, he will be compensated by the Brazilian state; And if she does not want to free him, the child will work for slavery until the age of 21. “At the moment, with Levi do Ventre Lever, we have institutionalized child labor,” Ribeiro stressed.

Only on July 13, 1990, through the Children and Adolescents Constitution, was it proposed by law that vulnerable childhood should no longer be criminalized. Complete protection Children and adolescents

Natalia Suzuki Repórter Brasil “Escravo, nem Pensa!” And it also says that the concept of labor exploitation has been around for a long time, for both children and young people, as adults, and is considered normal in Brazilian society, so we can normalize children carrying bags from fairs and / or asking for money at the lighthouse. .

“These children should go to school, get adequate food, play sports, take part in leisure and cultural activities. In fact, what we have in Brazil is a division that some children and adolescents deserve and should be part of, and others are not, “said Suzuki.

He further recalls that many adolescents who are in the socio-educational system, even the adult prison population, who were already involved in some work at a young age, oppose the intellectual notion that early work gives dignity to the individual.

How child labor affects children’s development and future

Child labor has several consequences in the lives of boys and girls, which can affect their physical, cognitive, psychological and intellectual development and directly affect the construction of a healthy adult life.

When they work, children are excluded from family life and are prevented from playing, studying and resting. They become vulnerable to accidents and sexual violence and can cause excessive fatigue, insomnia, headaches and back pain as well as bone and muscle problems.

Bruna Ribeiro, author of the book “Meninos Malabares – Retratos do Trabalho Infantile no Brasil”, explains that the child who works becomes more tired of going to school, earns less, eventually drops out of school and loses access to higher education and markets. Regular work, or decent work.

“Thus, from an economic point of view, child labor perpetuates the cycle of poverty, which is repeated from generation to generation. Most of the time, when we talk to the family about child labor situations, the parents of this child start working very early; Grandparents, and more, ”he says.

What civil society has done to tackle the problem

Child labor needs to be recognized as a problem, demanded and pressured the government to conduct public policies, implement rights already guaranteed by law and disseminate relevant information.

Bruna Ribeiro says: “There is no public policy without social needs. So, unless child labor is a problem for society, we will not be able to put enough pressure on public policy to address this violation. “

Reporters Brasil and Criança Livre de Trabalho Infantil (formerly Rede Peteca), the initiative interviewed for this report, work with the campaign and fight against child labor in the country.

Condemnation is also an important tool for civil society to fight against the exploitation of child labor. Channels such as Dial 100 and Dial 156 are available for human rights violations and offer a safety net for families of child victims of child labor.

Natalia Suzuki defends that war measures should be taken not only in repressive but also in preventive ways, with policies aimed at education, social assistance and housing to prevent children and adolescents from dropping out of school and to participate in cultural activities. And not dedicated to work activities. “It should also highlight whether we need to enable or re-enable, the participatory instances that work with the theme and which have been inactive or deleted in recent years,” he commented.

The Third Sector Observatory, as a media focused on social factors, participates in the fight against child labor exploitation in the country, disseminating news and promoting the work of organizations committed to the theme.


3 Defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Food security “When people at all times have physical and economic access to safe, nutritious and adequate food to meet their dietary needs and food choices for an active and healthy life.” Food insecurity occurs, therefore, when there is insufficient access to the quality or quantity of food required by the population.

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