Last Updated: Friday, 25 July 2014, 12:52 GMT

2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Brazil

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 10 September 2009
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Brazil, 10 September 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4aba3eed8.html [accessed 25 July 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
Population, children, 5-14 years, 2004:34,367,074
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2004:5.2
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2004:7
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2004:3.3
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%), 2004:
     – Agriculture57.8
     – Manufacturing7.2
     – Services33.7
     – Other1.4
Minimum age for work:16
Compulsory education age:14
Free public education:Yes
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:136.9
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:94.4
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2004:93.9
Survival rate to grade 5 (%):
ILO Convention 138:6/28/2001
ILO Convention 182:2/2/2000
CRC:9/24/1990
CRCOPAC:1/27/2004
CRCOPSC:1/27/2004
Palermo:1/29/2004
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Children in Brazil work in rural and urban areas, mainly in the informal sector. In rural areas, particularly in the northeastern region, children work in the agricultural sector. Most working children are Afro descendant. Children have been found working on cotton, manioc, pineapple, rice, sisal, and tobacco farms. They are also involved in raising livestock, and the production of charcoal, ceramics, bricks, and footwear.

In urban areas, common activities for working children include shining shoes; street peddling; begging; and working in restaurants, construction, and transportation. Girls ages 10 to 14 years perform domestic work in third-party homes for more than 40 hours per week, for which they are paid half the minimum wage or do not receive payment.

There are reports of forced child labor in the production of charcoal and in cattle ranching. In September 2008, the special anti-forced labor mobile unit of the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MTE) liberated 150 workers, including 30 children, who were working under forced labor conditions on a cacao plantation in the State of Para.

Children are engaged in commercial sexual exploitation, pornography, and drug trafficking. In the Amazon region, children are victims of commercial sexual exploitation in mining settlement brothels. Trafficking in children is a problem. Girls are trafficked domestically and internationally for commercial sexual exploitation. Boys are trafficked internally as slave laborers. Child sex tourism is a problem, which often involves a ring of travel agents, hotel workers, taxi drivers, and traffickers. Children are sexually exploited by foreign pedophiles, mostly from Europe and North America.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for general employment in Brazil is 16 years. However, the law establishes that younger children can work in family workshops under supervision of a parent or guardian and under certain conditions, without specifying a minimum age. The minimum age for apprenticeships is 14 years. Minors who work as apprentices are required to attend school through the primary grades and to provide proof of parental permission to work. The law prohibits employees under 18 years from working in unhealthy, dangerous, painful, or arduous conditions, at night or in settings where their physical, moral, or social well-being is adversely affected. The law also prohibits children under 18 years from performing domestic work.

Decree No. 6.481 of 2008 updated the country's list of worst forms of child labor that are prohibited for all children under the age of 18 years. Children are not allowed to work in 93 specific activities in the following sectors: agriculture, fishing, timber, mining, raw material transformation, construction, domestic work, car repair shops, transportation, and health care services. Minors are forbidden from working in bars, brothels, and casinos as well as from being involved in pornography, the sale of alcoholic beverages, and the illegal drug trade.

The law penalizes forced labor and trafficking in persons internally or internationally. It 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. Internal and international labor trafficking is punishable by imprisonment of 1 to 3 years and fines; penalties increase by one-sixth to one-third if the victim is under 18 years. Trafficking in persons for the purpose of sexual exploitation domestically and internationally is punishable with 3 to 8 years of incarceration and fines. The law also provides for fines and prison terms of 4 to 10 years for anyone convicted of trafficking children 14 to 18 years internally or across national borders for prostitution, with penalties of 5 to 12 years in cases of violence or fraud.

The law establishes that introducing a child of 14 to 18 years into prostitution is punishable by imprisonment of 3 to 8 years, and in cases of violence or fraud, 4 to 10 years. Running a brothel is punishable by 2 to 5 years of imprisonment and fines. Child pornography is illegal. According to Law 11.829 of 2008, anyone who produces, reproduces, photographs, or films child pornography can be punished with 4 to 8 years of incarceration and payment of fines. The law establishes penalties from 3 to 6 years of incarceration and payment of fines for other activities related to child pornography such as publication and distribution of child pornography and inducing and forcing children to participate in pornography. The minimum age for conscription into military service is 18 years.

MTE conducts labor inspections in work sites for child labor violations and gathers information from the inspections to develop plans to combat child labor through the Divisions of Child Labor Inspections and Child Labor and Adolescents' Protection. Most inspections result from complaints to labor inspectors by workers, NGOs, teachers, the media, and other sources. Although MTE conducts labor inspections in the informal sector, they are difficult to undertake because most children work on farms and in private homes. From January 2008 through February 2009, MTE found 6,054 children working during inspections. MTE works closely with the Federal Labor Prosecutor's Office (MPT), which investigates, prosecutes, and brings civil charges of child labor violations, including the commercial sexual exploitation of children and domestic work. It also carries out awareness-raising campaigns, organizes public hearings to discuss child labor cases, and holds local governments accountable when they have not signed the National Program for the Eradication of Child Labor or included child labor in social programs. MPT coordinates its efforts to combat child labor and protect adolescent workers through a national committee made up of 50 prosecutors. In addition, MTE has a special mobile unit composed of labor inspectors, federal police, and prosecutors who investigate cases of forced labor.

Government authorities involved in combating trafficking include the Ministry of Social Development and Combating Hunger (MDS), the Special Human Rights Secretariat, MTE, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), the Ministry of External Relations (MER), and the Ministry of Tourism (MOT). The Federal Police provides training to police officers on trafficking in persons, with emphasis on internal trafficking, and conducts operations to combat trafficking. During 2008, it arrested 59 persons for international trafficking. In addition, the Federal Highway Police provides training to highway police officers on internal human trafficking, conducts anti-trafficking operations, and raises awareness about trafficking in persons, particularly the trafficking of children for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

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

During the reporting period, the Government of Brazil approved a 2-year National Plan to Combat the Trafficking of Persons (PNETP), which is coordinated by MOJ. Under PNETP, the Government aims to conduct research and improve legislation on trafficking of persons, train and raise awareness of human trafficking, facilitate cooperation between government agencies, and coordinate services provided to victims of trafficking. The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics published the results of the supplement on child labor of the 2006 Household Survey, which provides information on child labor in Brazil. As of this writing, data were not available to UCW for analysis for use in this report. For information on data used in this report, please see the Data Sources and Definitions section.

MTE, with support from ILO-IPEC, has set up a child labor monitoring system that provides information per activity, municipality, state, date, labor inspection, and number of children withdrawn from exploitive work. To raise awareness of child labor, MTE published an illustrated handbook that provides information about child labor laws. MPT continues carrying out national child labor initiatives and has initiated a new awareness-raising campaign on child labor aimed at school children and teachers.

In partnership with ILO-IPEC, the Ministry of Education (MOE) incorporated a course on child labor into its distance learning program, Jump to the Future, which provides training to public and private school teachers and is aired on TV Escola. MOE and the Special Secretariat of Human Rights (SEDH) published an illustrated booklet on the rights of children that includes information on child labor and commercial sexual exploitation of children.

The national program to remove children from working in the most hazardous forms of child labor is the Program to Eradicate Child Labor (PETI), which is part of the Social Assistance Single System, administered by MDS in conjunction with state and local authorities. Through PETI, families with children working in selected hazardous activities receive stipends to remove their children from work and maintain them in school. In addition, PETI offers an after-school program to prevent children from working during non-school hours, which provides tutoring, snacks, sports, art, and cultural activities. Children between 7 and 15 years are eligible to participate. While PETI focuses on removing children from hazardous work, the Family Grant (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. One of the conditions for families to receive the Family Grant is that children under 15 years, who withdraw or are at risk of working, go to school. Municipalities and states of Brazil continue to establish programs to eradicate child labor with the support of the federal government.

With the participation of the Government of Brazil and the Government of the state of Bahia, ILOIPEC initiated a 4-year, USD 4.9 million program to combat child labor in the state of Bahia, funded by USDOL. This initiative aims to withdraw 7,000 and prevent 7,000 Afro-descendant children from the agricultural, domestic, and informal urban sectors. It also participates in a USD 3.3 million ILO-IPEC regional project to combat child labor in South America, funded by the Government of Spain. The Government participated in a 4-year, USD 6.5 million ILO-IPEC Timebound Program to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in domestic service, commercial sexual exploitation, hazardous work in agriculture, and in the informal urban sector, funded by USDOL. The project withdrew 6,279 children and prevented 5,251 children from exploitive labor.

MPT, in partnership with state governments, is currently carrying out awareness-raising of commercial sexual exploitation of children and the trafficking of children. The Government of Brazil continues to assist child victims of commercial sexual exploitation through the Social Assistance Specialized Reference Centers Program, which provides social services for them and their families. This program is funded by federal, state, and municipal governments. The Government continues operating a hotline to report sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children. In 2008, 10,125 cases of sexual exploitation of children and adolescents were reported. SEDH, UNICEF, and the semi-public oil company Petrobras carried out a campaign aimed at truck drivers to combat sexual exploitation of children along highways. With support from MOT and SEDH, World Vision conducted an awareness-raising campaign to combat commercial sexual exploitation of children in eight cities.

During the reporting period, the Federal Police created a national trafficking database designed to gather accurate information about child labor, trafficking in persons, child pornography, and forced labor. MOJ, in partnership with UNODC, organized an essay contest to encourage academic research and raise awareness of trafficking in persons; six university students received cash awards. In addition, the Brazilian Government, along with the NGO Safenet, created a Web site where cases of child pornography can be reported. In 2008, it received 57,574 complaints of child pornography. During the reporting period, the Government trained law enforcement agents, prosecutors, federal police officers, and judges in child labor, trafficking in persons, and child sex tourism. State and local governments continue to adopt a code of conduct to combat sex tourism and sexual exploitation. Under the code, businesses are required to display public warnings about the potential punishment for sexually exploiting children. The Government of Brazil and the United States conducted joint training on trafficking in persons and child pornography. The Federal Highway Police continues to provide training to patrol officers. The State of Sao Paulo, in partnership with MOJ and MOT, launched an awareness-raising campaign to combat trafficking in persons through public service announcements. MOT continues to expand its campaign, One Who Loves, Protects to other South American countries, including Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Guyana, Ecuador, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela. The campaign seeks to prevent the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the tourism sector. MTE continues to publish the "Dirty List" (Lista Suja), which provides information about cases of forced labor. Based on this information, the NGO Reporter Brasil, in partnership with ILO and the Ethos Institute, has developed an online database broken down by company or employer, location, economic activity, and number of forced laborers found by the special anti-forced labor mobile unit.

The Government of Brazil and other associates and member governments of MERCOSUR are carrying out the "Niño Sur" ("Southern Child") initiative to defend the rights of children and adolescents in the region. The initiative aims to raise awareness of commercial sexual exploitation, improve country legal frameworks, and exchange best practices to tackle issues related to victim protection and assistance. MOT is part of the Joint Group for the Elimination of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Tourism, which conducts prevention and awareness-raising campaigns to combat the commercial exploitation of children in Latin America. It was created in 2005 and includes the Ministries of Tourism of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela. In November 2008, the Government of Brazil hosted the World Congress III against the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents, which gathered more than 3,500 delegates from 170 countries.

The Brazilian Government participates in a USD 450,000 USAID project to combat the trafficking of children for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. In addition, it participated in a USD

3.2 million project to combat trafficking of persons implemented by ILO and funded by USAID.

The Brazilian Government participates in UNODC efforts to combat human trafficking through awareness-raising campaigns that include flyers, posters, and video clips. The Government of Brazil participates, along with the Governments of Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, in a USD 1,150,000 regional initiative funded by IDB, which seeks to develop a regional strategy to combat the trafficking of children for the purpose of sexual exploitation. The Government of Brazil is currently funding a USD 290,000 ILO-IPEC project to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in Haiti, and it funded a USD 200,000 ILO-IPEC initiative to combat the worst forms of child labor in Lusophone countries in Africa, including Angola, Cape Verde, and Mozambique, which ended in 2008.

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