Labor among children aged 5-9 increased in Brazil

As of 2015, nearly 80,000 children in this age group were working

Published in 12/06/2017 - 11:42 By Debora Brito reports from Agência Brasil - Brasília

Child labor is still largely explored throughout Brazil. Whether at traffic lights, garbage dumps, street markets, restaurants, rural areas, in factories, or at home, almost three million children and adolescents in Brazil are denied their right to childhood and education, according to a study by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).

A diagnosis of child labor in Brazil has revealed that the number of underage workers account for 5% of the population aged between 5 and 17. The ratio of economically active children was 20% lower in 2015 than in previous years, but experts warn there could be a new upturn in the trend.

Since 2013, the country has seen an increase in child labor among children aged 5 to 9 years. In 2015, the year of IBGE's latest survey, almost 80,000 children in this age group were working. As they grow older, they could drive up the figures for teenage labor in future surveys. About 60% of them live in rural areas in the North and Northeast regions.

Representatives of the child protection network say the figures are alarming and should be exposed in campaigns for the World Day Against Child Labor celebrated on June 12. The date was established 15 years ago by the International Labor Organization (ILO) to encourage global action and engage different actors in combating child labor.

“Children aged 5 to 9 working is something acceptable. A vast majority of them work with their own families farming vegetables, growing corn, raising poultry and livestock. Once known and analysed, these facts should inform political decisions or actions and programs that address this serious situation,” said Isa Oliveira, a sociologist and Executive Secretary of the National Forum for the Prevention and Eradication of Child Labor (FNPETI), of the organizations leading the campaign in Brazil.

Another point that should be raised by the campaign according to the National Forum is Brazil's failure to comply with the goal set by the International Labor Organization to eliminate all the worst forms of child labor by 2016.

The most serious forms of child labor, as described in International Convention 182 (to which Brazil is party), include slavery, drug trafficking, domestic work, and sexual exploitation. The victims of the latter two are mainly black girls.

“Our proposal on June 12 is to question the government about its failure to meet its goal, and the analysis of this failure should inform future decisions that reaffirm the commitment to preventing and eliminating child labor. Brazil has made this commitment. The prohibition of child labor is outlined in Brazilian laws, particularly in the Federal Constitution,” said Isa Oliveira.

According to the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MTE), the goal of eradicating the worst forms of child labor was postponed to 2020, and the complete eradication of all forms to 2025, in an agreement with the international community before the ILO, as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. The ministry also reported that between 2006 and 2015, almost 47,000 crackdowns led to 63,846 children and adolescents being rescued from work, and to the reduction reported by the IBGE in 2015.


International laws describe child labor as compelled engagagement of children in any kind of regular economic activity, whether paid or unpaid, which interferes with their well-being or with their physical, mental, moral, or social development.

The Brazilian constitution prohibits work of people under 16 years old, except as apprentice from the age of 14. Apprentice work must not include night shifts nor be dangerous or harmful to health, including for those over 16 but younger than 18 years old. Moreover, the apprenticeship activities must not interfere with the adolescents' ability to attend school or their performance at school.

This prohibition is also enforced by the Consolidation of Labor Laws (CLT), the main regulation on employment in Brazil, which limits the possibility of work by children under 16 years to cases authorized by court, and sets out the conditions for hiring apprentices. The apprentices' right to professionalization and job protection is also set out in the Statute of the Child and Adolescent (ECA).

Translated by Mayra Borges

Fonte: Labor among children aged 5-9 increased in Brazil

Edition: Kleber Sampaio / Nira Foster

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