Brazil united in the fight against child labor The country has reduced the occurrence of the practice over the years.
Target of campaigns and actions by the Federal Government, child labor has decreased in the country. In 2016, there were 2.1 million children and adolescents from 5 to 17 years old in this situation. By 2019, that number had dropped to 1.8 million. The data are from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).
In Brazil, child labor is considered: economic and survival activities, whether paid or not, performed by children or adolescents under 16, with the exception of apprenticeships, from 14 years of age onwards.
Also as part of the June 12 campaign, the MMFDH launched a booklet to encourage and value apprenticeship work for young people aged 14 to 24, as this modality is also part of the protection against child labor.
The National Secretary for the Rights of Children and Adolescents, of the MMFDH, Maurício Cunha, commented on the actions of the Brazilian Government to combat child labor and make society aware of the evils it represents for childhood and youth.
The date remembered on the 12th is worldwide to shed light on this very sensitive topic. How is child labor treated in Brazil? What characterizes the child labor situation in the country?
Brazil is a signatory to major conventions, international agreements of the United Nations (UN) and the convention of the International Labor Organization (ILO) that regulate this matter. Child labor in our country is prohibited for people under the age of 16, except for those aged 14 or over as an apprentice. In other words, from 14 to 16 years old is possible, as an apprentice, and over 16 years old. Even between 16 and 18 years of age, there are some restrictions on teenagers' work. He cannot work in unhealthy condition, night work, dangerous. All of this comes to comply with the Doctrine of Integral Protection that is in our Constitution, in the Statute of Children and Adolescents (ECA), as a form of protection for children. Brazil has one of the best legislations in the world with regard to protection against the exploitation of child labor.
According to IBGE, 1.8 million children and adolescents from 5 to 17 years old were in a situation of child labor in 2019. What is the profile of these children and adolescents?
About 65% of them are black boys who work in different environments. When we think about housework, which is different from household chores, housework is working outside your family, in a situation of exploitation, a child who is going to take care of another child or an elderly person, then it changes a little . More than 90% are girls and teenagers. And 45% of all these occupations are in jobs considered dangerous. This calls our attention within the Dangerous Child Labor (TIP) list, putting the health, development and safety of these children and adolescents at risk.
Compared to previous years, is this reality in Brazil improving? Do we still have to move forward?
Historically, child labor has been decreasing all over the world thanks to all this work of awareness, standardization, regulation. In Brazil, this has also been decreasing. We have strengthened the Rights Guarantee System so that this decrease remains, that it is consistent. In 2016, 2.1 million. In 2019, it dropped to 1.8 million. Contrary to all predictions that, in the health crisis, the exploitation of child labor in Brazil would increase, at least with regard to complaints in the National Human Rights Ombudsman, this number fell in 2020. If you take the historical series between 2012 and 2018, we had an average of 6,500 complaints per year of child labor exploitation at the National Human Rights Ombudsman, on Dial 100. In 2020, that number dropped to 2,300, a reduction of more than 60%. the causal nexus of this, but possibly it is related to the Emergency Aid from the Government, which gave families to keep their children at home without having to use the exploitation of their work to increase their income.
A few decades ago it was common to see children doing housework in family homes or even in charcoal kilns and other dangerous activities. What are the worst forms of child labor in Brazil and also the mostcommon?
We have 93 types of work typified in our decree in the famous list: Dangerous Child Labor (TIP). We have sexual exploitation that worries us a lot. It's one of the worst ways. There are children working in bars, restaurants, motels, charcoal works. We have child domestic work, which is also considered one of the worst forms. It is work analogous to slavery. What concerns us in Brazil is domestic work and the sexual exploitation of adolescents.
And has there been a change in the population's behavior in relation to child labor? What is the importance of laws, awareness campaigns in this regard?
Has. We believe so. The new generations are understanding more that a child is to study, play and be protected. The world of work is a world of performance, of results, it's an adult world. We have studies that show that the sooner a child starts working, the lower that person's income will be throughout their lifetime. Families need to understand this. There are still some myths that child labor is good for the child's moral performance, no, a healthy childhood that will be good for that child's moral life, for that child's discipline in the future. The child does not have to be subject to the strict performance and performance standards of the world of work. For this, we have reporting channels. Child labor must be reported on Dial 100, at the National Ombudsman or to other actors in the System for Guaranteeing the Rights of Children and Adolescents.
Brazil has made a commitment at the UN to eradicate child labor by 2025. Is the Federal Government moving towards meeting this goal?
We are working hard on this with a series of actions. We may not be able to meet in 2025, but we will continue to pursue that target. We have projects within the scope of the Ministry of Citizenship, for example, Criança Feliz, Bolsa Família, the Continuous Cash Benefit (BPC), and Emergency Aid itself. Within the scope of the MMFDH, we created the National School for the Rights of Children and Adolescents. Also, I want to promote our free courses, free, totally online, for the whole of Brazil. These are courses that deal with the defense of the rights of children and adolescents. We also created a technical cooperation agreement with the Federal Highway Police, the Mapear Project, which maps the points of sexual exploitation on Brazilian federal highways. There are 470 hotspots in Brazil today, mainly at gas stations in urban areas.
Can a child who enters the world of work in the wrong way be at physical or psychological risks?
No doubt. As I said, a child is not a small adult. She is a child. So, she still doesn't have the physical, psychic, emotional, cognitive development to enter the world of work. It ends up being exploited because it is cheaper labor. Children have to play, study and be protected. Proof of this is that a child suffers six times more accidents at work than an adult, because he does not have the proper development for this. There are a series of sequels that the exploitation of work brings to the lives of children and adolescents, because they are not ready for this world of performance and financial results.
Finally, what would you have to say to parents and society in general about this awareness? Does each one have a role in combating child labour?
Exactly. Let's protect our children and teenagers. Let's sow education in childhood so that they have a better future, so that they can be in school. Who has the duty to provide financially for the family are the adults of that family arrangement. And, to the actors in the system for guaranteeing the rights of children and adolescents, for example, teachers, if a child leaves school, he or she drops out, goes three, five days without showing up at school, the Guardianship Council already has to be notified. We are going after this child because he may be a victim of child labor exploitation and his future will certainly be jeopardized.