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