- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 16, 2003

SAO PAULO, Brazil, April 16 (UPI) — There are more than 5.5 million child laborers in Brazil, a study released Wednesday said, and more than 2 million are ages 5 to 14.

According to the study by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics — based on a 2001 survey — 3.2 million children ages 15 to 17 work. The remaining 2.2 million are age 5 or older.

Almost half — 48.6 percent — didn't receive any remuneration for their labor, says the study, and more than 1 million of these children don't attend school. Of those who are paid, 77 percent received the minimum wage (about $65 a month by 2003 standards) or less.

The IGBE survey concludes that more than 12 percent of Brazil's estimated 45.5 million children ages 5 to 17 are working.

In reaction to the survey, Francisco Fausto, the president of the Supreme Tribunal on Labor, called for more federal government monitoring of child labor.

"That (the survey) demonstrates the necessity for greater involvement by the Minister of Labor … the exploitation of children for labor is as grave as slave labor, in that both of them strike at human nature."

He said that although some children are paid, the money isn't enough to make up for their harsh working conditions and lost educational opportunities.

Most of the child laborers are in the impoverished northeast and south, and just over 43 percent work in agriculture. More than 51 percent of those surveyed said they worked with potentially dangerous chemicals or hazardous machinery.

While the numbers seem staggering, the 12 percent of Brazilian children working is lower than the international average. The International Labor Organization — which participated in the IGBE survey — claims that 16 percent of the world's children are working, with 170 million doing what is considered hazardous work such as mining or factory labor.

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