Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 September 2014, 11:24 GMT

2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Brazil

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 31 August 2007
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Brazil, 31 August 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d749254c.html [accessed 30 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor
Percent of children 5-14 estimated as working in 2004:5.2%611
Minimum age for admission to work:16612
Age to which education is compulsory:14613
Free public education:Yes614
Gross primary enrollment rate in 2002:147%615
Net primary enrollment rate in 2002:97%616
Percent of children 5-14 attending school in 2003:93.6%617
Percent of primary school entrants likely to reach grade 5:Unavailable
Ratified Convention 138:6/28/2001618
Ratified Convention 182:2/2/2000619
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes620

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2004, approximately 7 percent of boys and 3.3 percent of girls 5 to 14 were working in Brazil. The majority of working children in Brazil were found in the agricultural sector (57.8 percent), followed by services (33.7 percent), manufacturing (7.2 percent) and other sectors (1.4 percent).621 Child labor is more prevalent in northeastern Brazil than in any other region, and it is equally common in rural and urban areas throughout the country.622 More minors of African descent are working than of any other race or ethnicity.623 Children work in approximately 116 activities, including mining; fishing; raising livestock; producing charcoal and footwear; and harvesting corn, manioc, sugarcane, sisal and other crops in rural areas. In urban areas, common activities for working children include shining shoes, street peddling, begging, and working in restaurants, construction, and transportation.624 The Federal Labor Prosecutor's Office estimates that 1.2 million minors are employed as domestic servants in Brazil, which it estimates to correspond to more than 20 percent of all working children.625 Other children and adolescents work as trash pickers,626 drug traffickers,627 and prostitutes,628 including in sex tourism and pornography.629

Girls were trafficked domestically and overseas for commercial sexual exploitation to other South American countries, the United States, and Western Europe.630 Boys were trafficked internally as slave laborers.631

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for general employment in Brazil is 16 years, and the minimum age for apprenticeships is 14 years.632 Minors who work as apprentices are required to attend school through the primary grades and to provide proof of parental permission to work.633 The law prohibits employees under 18 from working in unhealthy, dangerous, and arduous conditions; for long hours that impede school attendance; at night; or in settings where their physical, moral, or social well-being is adversely affected.634

Adult prostitution is legal in Brazil,635 but inducing a child 14 to 18 years to participate in prostitution is punishable by imprisonment of 3 to 8 years and fines, and in cases of violence or fraud, 4 to 10 years and fines. Running a brothel is punishable by 2 to 5 years of imprisonment and fines.636 The law also provides for fines and prison terms of 4 to 10 years for anyone convicted of trafficking children 14 to 18 internally or across national borders for prostitution, with penalties of 5 to 12 years in cases of violence or fraud.637 The law does not address forced labor directly, but establishes imprisonment from 2 to 8 years and a fine for subjecting a person to slave-like conditions, with penalties increasing by one-half if the crime is committed against a child. Transporting workers by force from one locale to another within the national territory is punishable by imprisonment for 1 to 3 years and fines; penalties increase by one-sixth to one-third if the victim is under 18.638 The minimum age for conscription into the military service is 18 years, or 17 years on a voluntary basis.639

The MLE is responsible for inspecting work sites for child labor violations.640 Inspections increasingly target informal employment, in part because of the declining number of children working in the formal sector.641 The MLE's labor inspectors, stationed in 26 regional offices, continue to carry out unannounced child labor inspections throughout the year.642 Most inspections result from complaints to labor inspectors by workers, NGOs, teachers, the media, and other sources.643 Employers who violate Brazil's child labor laws are subject to monetary fines, but inspectors typically negotiate agreements to have employers desist from labor law violations before levying fines.644 The Labor Inspection Secretariat reported that between January and August 2006, 8,326 children were removed from exploitive labor situations.645

MLE labor inspectors often work closely with prosecutors from the Federal Labor Prosecutor's Office (MPT).646 MPT prosecutors may investigate cases of child labor, bring charges against violators, and levy fines.647 In many municipalities, labor inspectors and prosecutors are aided by a network of legally-mandated Guardianship Councils that serve as reference centers for at-risk children and adolescents. By 2003, of the 5,578 municipalities, only 3,477 had established such councils. The lack of greater compliance with the law has been blamed on lack of resources and political will at the local level.648

Government authorities involved in combating trafficking include the Ministry of Social Assistance (MDS), the Special Human Rights Secretariat (SEDH), the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MLE), the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Tourism.649 The Federal Police continues to address trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation with their counterparts in Portugal, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Mexico, and the United States.650 The U.S. Department of State has noted Brazil's failure to pass anti-trafficking legislation and to assign effective criminal penalties against traffickers.651

Current Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Brazil's National Commission to Eradicate Child Labor (CONAETI), composed of members from the federal government, worker and employer organizations, and civil society,652 is implementing the 2004-2007 National Plan to Eradicate Child Labor.653 A CONAETI subcommission has revised the country's list of the worst forms of child labor, as stipulated by ILO Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor. The Child-Friendly President Action Plan 2004-2007, which includes efforts to combat child labor and commercial sexual exploitation, continues to operate.654

The principal program to remove children from working in the most hazardous forms of child labor is the Program to Eradicate Child Labor (PETI), administered by the Ministry of Social Development and Combating Hunger (MDS) in conjunction with state and local authorities.655 Through PETI, families with children working in select hazardous activities receive stipends to remove their children from work and maintain them in school.656 In addition, PETI offers an after-school program to prevent children from working during non-school hours, which provides tutoring, nutritional snacks and sports, art, and cultural activities. Children between 7 and 15 years are eligible to participate.657 The government is integrating PETI into the Family Stipend Program (see below). In addition, the MDS and the Ministry of Education are working to establish stronger standards and content for the PETI after-school program.658 At the end of 2006, the PETI program was offered in 3,296 municipalities and was providing stipends and services to approximately 1 million children and adolescents.659

While PETI focuses on removing children from hazardous work, the Family Stipend (Bolsa Família) program aims to prevent child labor and promote education by supplementing family income and encouraging at-risk children and adolescents to attend school regularly.660 The program provides a monthly monetary stipend to impoverished families who agree to keep their children in school and meet other requirements related to health and nutrition.661

The MDS' Youth Agent of Social and Human Development (Projeto Agente Jovem de Desenvolvimento Social e Humano) program provides training in personal, social, community development and job skills for youth between 15 and 17 years and aims to reintegrate and retain them in school. The program targets adolescents who have "graduated" out of other social programs, including PETI. The program reached approximately 112,000 adolescents in 2006.662

The Government of Brazil, in coordination with ILO-IPEC, is implementing a USDOL-funded USD 6.5 million Timebound Program to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in domestic service, prostitution, hazardous work in agriculture, and other informal sector activities. The project aims to withdraw 4,026 children from exploitive labor and prevent an additional 1,974 from becoming involved in such activities.663 Another USDOL-funded USD 5 million program implemented by Partners of the Americas in coordination with the Government of Brazil aims to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in illicit drug cultivation and the commercial sexual exploitation of children through the provision of quality basic education in areas of northern and northeastern Brazil. The project aims to withdraw 4,596 children from exploitive labor and prevent an additional 6,600 from becoming engaged in similar activities.664

The Government of Brazil and the other governments of MERCOSUL (the Brazilian acronym for the "Common Market of the South") developed the "Niño Sur" ("Southern Child") initiative to defend the rights of children and adolescents in the region. The initiative has three main areas of priority: the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents (including trafficking); child labor; and youth criminal justice. Action strategies include the harmonization of legal frameworks, unified public campaigns and joint actions in border cities.665

The National Plan to Fight Sexual Violence against Children and Adolescents provides the policy framework for the government programs to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children and adolescents.666 A number of government agencies, including the SEDH, are carrying out initiatives to assist victims and raise awareness.667 The primary program to assist child victims of commercial sexual exploitation is the Social Assistance Specialized Reference Centers Program (CREAS). By the end of 2006, CREAS centers were established in 1,126 municipalities.668

In January 2006, with support from the Ministry of Tourism and the SEDH, World Vision launched a 6-month campaign against child sexual tourism in hotels and airports of eight state capitals. The main focus of the campaign was to combat impunity of foreigners involved in the commercial sexual exploitation of minors.669 The SEDH also implements a telephone hotline in every state for reporting sexual violence against children and adolescents.670

In October 2006, the president established a national-level anti-trafficking policy and an interministerial working group charged with drafting a National Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons.671 The policy provides a framework for the prevention of trafficking, the prosecution of violators, and the protection of trafficking victims.672 The Ministry of Justice heads the interministerial working group, which includes representatives from many federal agencies including the SEDH, the Special Secretariat for Women's Policy, The Special Secretariat for the Promotion of Racial Equality, the MDS, the Ministry of Health, the MLE, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Tourism.673 Also in October 2006, the government launched a national trafficking database designed to document and analyze trafficking-related statistics more effectively.674

In November 2006, the Ministry of Justice initiated the second phase of a program managed by the UNODC that will design the National Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons, raise awareness on the issue, and expand the country's database on trafficking victims and perpetrators. UNODC aims to expand project implementation to all Brazilian states, and it will locate centers in the principal national airports with personnel trained to receive possible trafficking victims.675


611 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, March 1, 2007, Articles 227-231.

612 ILOLEX, C138 Minimum Age Convention, 1973, accessed October 12, 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/cgi-lex/pdconv.pl?host=status01&textbase=iloeng&document=6962&chapter=19&query=C138%40ref&highlight=&q uerytype=bool.

613 Casa Civil Presidência da República, Subchefia para Assuntos Jurídicos, LEI N. 11.274, de 6 de Fevereiro de 2006, Article 32, [online] 2006 [cited October 21, 2006]; available from https://www.planalto.gov.br/ccivil_03/_Ato2004-2006/2006/Lei/L11274.htm.

614 Ibid. See also U.S. Department of State, "Brazil," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2006, Washington, DC, March 6, 2007, Section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78882.htm.

615 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Gross Enrolment Ratio. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

616 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Net Enrolment Rate. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

617 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Survival Rate to Grade 5. Total, accessed December 18, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org.

618 ILOLEX, C138 Minimum Age Convention, 1973.

619 ILOLEX, C182 Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999, accessed October 12, 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/cgi-lex/pdconv.pl?host=status01&textbase=iloeng&document=6702&chapter=19&query=C182%40ref&highlight=&q uerytype=bool.

620 ILO-IPEC, IPEC Action Against Child Labour Highlights 2006, Geneva, February, 2007; available from http://www.ilo.org/iloroot/docstore/ipec/prod/eng/20070228_Implementationreport_en_Web.pdf.

621 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

622 Ministry of Labor and Employment, Mapa de Indicativos do Trabalho da Criança e do Adolescente, [online], 2005.

623 Ibid.

624 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Brazil," Section 6d. See also CONAETI, Lista Tip, Brasilia, October 2, 2006.

625 Public Labor Ministry, Trabalho Doméstico, [online] 2006 [cited October 21, 2006]; available from http://spider.pgt.mpt.gov.br:8080/pgtgc/publicacao/engine.wsp?tmp.area=291.

626 Public Labor Ministry, Lixões, [online] 2006 [cited October 21, 2006]; available from http://spider.pgt.mpt.gov.br:8080/pgtgc/publicacao/engine.wsp?tmp.area=292.

627 Public Labor Ministry, Tráfico de drogas, [online] 2006 [cited October 21, 2006]; available from http://spider.pgt.mpt.gov.br:8080/pgtgc/publicacao/engine.wsp?tmp.area=290.

628 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Brazil," Sections 5 and 6d.

629 U.S. Department of State, "Brazil (Tier 2 Watch List)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Brazil, Washington, DC, June 5, 2006; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2005/46613.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Brazil," Section 5.

630 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Brazil," Section 5.

631 Ibid.

632 ILO Committee of Experts, Direct Request, Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) Brazil, [online], 2005; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newcountryframeE.htm.

633 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Brazil," Section 6d.

634 Federal Labor Prosecutor's Office, Legislação, [online] [cited October 22, 2006]; available from http://www.spider.pgt.mpt.gov.br:8080/pgtgc/publicacao/engine.wsp?tmp.area=286.

635 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Brazil," Section 5.

636 Government of Brazil, Código Penal Brasil, Lei No. 2,848, modified by Lei No. 9,777 of 1998; available from http://www.oas.org/juridico/mla/pt/bra/pt_bra-int-text-cp.pdf.

637 Ibid.

638 Decreto-Lei 2,848, (December 7,), Articles 149 and 207; available from https://www.presidencia.gov.br/ccivil_03/Decreto-Lei/Del2848.htm.

639 Government of Brazil, Lei do Serviço Militar, Lei 4.375 de 17/08/1964, (August 17, 1964), articles 3 and 5; available from http://www.defesa.gov.br/enternet/sitios/internet/disemi/lsm.html. See also Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Brazil," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004.

640 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Brazil," Section 6d.

641 ILO-IPEC, Análise e recomendações para a melhor regulamentação e cumprimento da normativa nacional e internacional sobre o trabalho de crianças e adolescentes no Brasil, Brasília, 2003, 30; available from http://www.oit.org.pe/spanish/260ameri/oitreg/activid/proyectos/ipec/doc/estudios/brasil_171.pdf. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Brazil," Section 6d.

642 ILO-IPEC, Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labor in Brazil – Support for the Time-Bound Program on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor, technical progress report, ILO, Geneva, August, 2006, 5.

643 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Brazil," Section 6d.

644 Ibid.

645 ILO-IPEC, Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labor in Brazil – Support for the Time-bound Program on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor, technical progress report, Geneva, August 2006, 12.

646 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Brazil," Section 6d. See also Federal Labor Prosecutor's Office, ¿O Que é o MPT?, [online] [cited October 22, 2006]; available from http://www.pgt.mpt.gov.br/. See also Federal Labor Prosecutor's Office, Trabalho Infantil, [online] 2006 [cited October 22, 2006]; available from http://spider.pgt.mpt.gov.br:8080/pgtgc/publicacao/engine.wsp?tmp.area=258.

647 Federal Labor Prosecutor's Office, ¿O Que é o MPT? See also Federal Labor Prosecutor's Office, Trabalho Infantil. See also U.S. Department of State, "Brazil," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2005, Washington, DC, March 8, 2006, Section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2005/61718.htm.

648 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Rights of the Child: Addendum on Mission to Brazil, New York, February 3, 2004.

649 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Brazil," Section 5.

650 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Brazil."

651 Ibid. See also U.S. Department of State, "Brazil," in Trafficking in Persons Interim Assessment, Washington, DC, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/rpt/78948.htm.

652 Government of Brazil, Portaria No. 365, de 12 de Setembro de 2002; available from http://www.trt02.gov.br/geral/Tribunal2/ORGAOS/MTE/Portaria/P365_02.htm.

653 Ministry of Labor and Employment, Finalidade: Comissao Nacional de Erradicaçao do Trabalho Infantil (CONAETI), [online] 2006 [cited October 22, 2006]; available from http://www.mte.gov.br/Empregador/FiscaTrab/CombateTrabalhoInfantil/CONAETI/Finalidade/Conteudo/ 7068.asp. See also Ministry of Labor and Employment, National Plan: Prevention and Eradication of Child Labor and Protection of Adolescent Workers, 2004; available from http://www.mte.gov.br//Empregador/FiscaTrab/Publicacao/Conteudo/6365.pdf.

654 Special Secretary for Human Rights, Plano Presidente Amigo da Criança e do Adolescente – 2004/2007: Relatório Anual de Acompanhamento (Jan/Dez de 2005), annual report, Brasilia, May 2006; available from http://www.redeamiga.org.br/docs/ppaca_2005.pdf.

655 Ministry of Social Development and Combating Hunger, Programa de Erradicação do Trabalho Infantil – PETI, 2005 [cited May 15, 2007]; available from http://www.portaltransparencia.gov.br/curso_PETI.pdf.

656 Ibid.

657 Ibid.

658 ILO-IPEC, Brazil Time-Bound Program, August 2006 Technical Progress Report, 3.

659 Presidência da República do Brasil, Mensagem ao Congresso Nacional – 2007: Na Abertura da 1ª Sessão Legislativa Ordinária da 53ª Legislatura 2007 [cited May 15, 2007], 98; available from http://www.presidencia.gov.br/noticias/publicacoes/2007/.

660 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Brazil," Section 6d.

661 Casa Civil Presidência da República, Subchefia para Assuntos Jurídicos, Lei N. 10.836, de 9 de Janeiro de 2004, Articulo 3; available from http://www.planalto.gov.br/CCIVIL/_Ato2004-2006/2004/Lei/L10.836.htm. See also Zero Hunger, Bolsa Familia – Perguntas e Respostas, 2005.

662 Ministry of Social Development and Combating Hunger, Projeto Agente Jovem de Desenvolvimento Social e Humano, 2005. See also Agência de Notícias dos Direitos da Infância, "Prazo para cadastro no Agente Joven é prorrogado", [online], September 28, 2006; available from http://www.andi.org.br/. See also Presidência da República do Brasil, Mensagem ao Congresso Nacional – 2007, 103.

663 ILO-IPEC, Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labor in Brazil – Support for the Time-bound Program on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor, project document, September 30, 2003. See also USDOL, ILAB Technical Cooperation Project Summary: Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labor in Brazil-Support for the Time-bound Program on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor, project summary.

664 Partners of the Americas, EDUCAR Combating the Worst Forms of Child Labor through Education in Brazil, project document, Washington, DC, August 20, 2003. See also USDOL, ILAB Technical Cooperation Project Summary: EDUCAR-Combating the Worst Forms of Child Labor through Education in Brazil, project summary.

665 Ministry of Justice, Países do Mercosul anunciam campanha conjunta de Combate à Exploração Sexual de Crianças e Adolescentes, [online] August 29, 2006 [cited October 21 2006]; available from http://www.mj.gov.br/sedh/ct/conanda/noticias2_teste.asp?id=1380. See also Ministry of Justice, Combate à Exploração Sexual de Crianças e Adolescente é Meta no Mercosul, [online] August 24, 2006 [cited October 21 2006]; available from http://www.mj.gov.br/sedh/ct/conanda/noticias2_teste.asp?id=1373.

666 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Rights of the Child: Addendum on Mission to Brazil, New York, February, 2004, 18.

667 National Secretariat for Human Rights, Parcerias marcam Dia Nacional de Combate ao Abuso e à Violência Sexual Infanto-Juvenil, [online] 2004 [cited June 23, 2005]; available from http://www.mj.gov.br/sedh/ct/conanda/noticias2.asp?id=161.

668 Presidência da República do Brasil, Mensagem ao Congresso Nacional – 2007, 98. See also Ministry of Social Development and Combating Hunger-National Secretariat of Social Assistance, Centro de Referencia Especializado de Assistencia Social – CREAS: Guia de Orientacao No. 1, Brasilia, 2006, 7,10; available from www.assistenciasocial.rj.gov.br/pages/prot_soc_esp_oquee.asp

669 Agência de Notícias dos Direitos da Infância, "Governo dos Estados Unidos financia campanha contra exploracao sexual no Brasil", [online], September 28, 2006; available from http://www.andi.org.br.

670 ILO-IPEC, Brazil Time-bound Program, August 2006 technical progress report, 4. See also Agência de Notícias dos Direitos da Infância, "Disque-Denúncia amplia o horário de atendimento", [online], September 28, 2006; available from http://www.andi.org.br/.

671 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Interim Assessment: Brazil, online, January 19 2007, [accessed January 30, 2007]; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/rpt/78948.htm. See also Government of Brazil, Decreto No. 5,948, de 26 de Outubro de 2006, Articles 2 and 3.

672 Government of Brazil, Decreto No. 5,948, de 26 de Outubro de 2006, Article 1 of Annex.

673 Ibid., Article 3.

674 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Interim Assessment: Brazil.

675 United Nations Office on Drug and Crime, Trafico de Pessoas: Novo projeto do governo brasileiro com o UNODC, [online] [cited April 3, 2007]; available from http://www.unodc.org/brazil/programasglobais_tsh.html?print=yes.

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