Posts

Child Labor in Brazil, an Overview Article

Press Release: Council on Hemispheric Affairs
Made in Brazil: Confronting Child Labor

by COHA Research Associate Sonja Salzburger

“To force a child to work is to steal the future of that child” – Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva1

While Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has made significant efforts to reduce child labor, at the end of his tenure the issue still remains urgent. Forging a successful strategy to reduce child labor is not a simple task, since the reasons behind it are deeply embedded in the country’s economic and social structure.

In 2004, President Lula, who himself began to work at the age of eleven, declared fighting child labor a high priority.2 Although Brazil is often regarded as a positive example for other Latin American countries for its progress in the fight against child labor, more than four million Brazilian children between the ages of 5 and 17 are still working.3 Especially in the poorer northeastern part of the country, many children have no choice but to become integrated into the illegal job market.

In 1989, the Brazilian constitution enshrined certain fundamental rights for children. The constitution now states that the state has to approve every decision made by the federal government that affects children in order to demonstrate that it is beneficial to children’s interest.4 Moreover, the constitution states that no child or adolescent should be a victim of neglect, discrimination, exploitation, violence, cruelty, or repression.5 Nearly every district throughout the country has a council whose job it is to ensure that children’s rights are observed.… Read the rest

Brazil’s Bolsa Família How to get children out of jobs and into school The limits of Brazil’s much admired and emulated anti-poverty programme

ELDORADO, SÃO PAULO STATE

THREE generations of the Teixeira family live in three tiny rooms in Eldorado, one of the poorest favelas (slums) of Greater São Paulo, the largest city in the Americas. The matriarch of the family, Maria, has six children; her eldest daughter, Marina, has a toddler and a baby. Like many other households in the favela, the family has been plagued by domestic violence. But a few years ago, helped in part by Bolsa Família (family grant)—which pays mothers a small sum so long as their children stay in education and get medical check-ups—Maria took her children out of child labour and sent them to school.

The programme allows the children to miss about 15% of classes. But if a child gets caught missing more than that, payment is suspended for the whole family. The Teixeiras’ grant has been suspended and restarted several times as boy after boy skipped classes. And now the eldest, João, aged 16, is out earning a bit of money by cleaning cars or distributing leaflets, taking his younger brothers with him. Marina’s pregnancies have added to the pressure. She gets no money for her children because she lives with her mother and the family has reached Bolsa Família’s upper limit. After rallying for a while, the Teixeira family is sliding backwards, struggling more than it did a couple of years ago.

Their experience does not mean Bolsa Família has been a failure. On the contrary. By common consent the conditional cash-transfer programme (CCT) has been a stunning success and is wildly popular.… Read the rest