In Brazil, 40% of children and adolescents up to the age of 14 live in poor households, this represents a population of 17.3 million people. Of these, 5.8 million, or 13.5%, are living in extreme poverty.
Moisés Pérez Mok
This is detailed in a report presented this year by the Abrinq Foundation, a non-profit organisation whose mission is to promote human rights and the exercise of citizenship of children and adolescents.
The reality is even more shocking. According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), 1% of the country’s population (889,000 citizens) have 36.26 times more income than half of the 208 million Brazilians who populate the country. On the other hand, the commitment made by the United Nations (UN) to eradicate slave and child labour is far from being fulfilled.
In the country, and according to IBGE, about 2.7 million children are exploited from an early age and at least seven of them suffer serious accidents every day.
According to statistics from the Public Ministry of Labour, between 2012 and 2017 more than 15,600 children and adolescents were victims of dangerous incidents, which led to 187 deaths and more than 500 amputations.
The figures, however, may be much higher, as according to the Public Ministry of Labour, the statistics do not consider the victims of drug trafficking and other illicit and dangerous activities.
In addition, there is a social tolerance around the issue of child labour, because Brazilian society thinks it is better for a child to work than become a thief or to become involved with drugs, explained the prosecutor Patricia Sanfelici.
A violent society
A study conducted last year in 14 countries by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) revealed that there are at least four issues of concern for children: violence, terrorism, poverty and poor-quality education. In Brazil, the main fear for the survey respondents (82%) is violence, a fear that is warranted.
The most recent edition of the Atlas of Violence, produced by the Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA, for its acronym in Portuguese) and by the Brazilian Forum of Public Security, reveals that in 2016 Brazil recorded a record 62,517 violent deaths, 71.1% of these were caused by firearms.
Of the total number of murders that occurred that year, 71.5% were of black citizens and the regions where there were more significant increases in the number of victims were the North and the Northeast, which, according to experts, shows that “lethal violence is not distributed homogeneously in the Brazilian social fabric.”
This calamity is subject to influence from demographic and socioeconomic factors and to the action of the State itself, which is responsible for public security policies, said the specialist of the Brazilian Forum of Public Security, David Marques, to the newspaper, Brasil de Fato.
In the last decade (2006-2016), 553,000 people died in the country because of violent acts; with a rate of 30 murders per 100,000 citizens in 2016, which is 30 times higher than in Europe, he explained.
In addition, between 2006 and 2016, the homicide rate amongst the black population increased by 23.1%, whilst amongst non-blacks it fell by 6.8%.
At the same time, more than 18% of the homicides perpetrated had victims who were less than 19 years of age, mostly young, poor black people who live in the peripheral regions of large cities.
Violence against women and children has also become worse. According to the Atlas, children under 18 were the victims of 68% of the rapes, and almost one third of minors up to 13 years old are attacked by friends or family acquaintances.
Also, after 13 years of seeing a continuous decline, infant mortality rates (deaths under 1 year) and mortality rates of children between one month and four years of age increased again in 2017, due to a reduction in investments in social programs decreed by Michel Temer’s government.
In addition to cutting resources for plans such as Red Cigüeña (Red Stork), which aim to provide a network of pre-natal and birth carers, the scope of the Más Médicos programme was also reduced, especially in the most critical area, which is in the semi-arid zone in Northeast Brazil, explained former Health Minister Alexandre Padilha.
Another important factor that affects the increase in the number of deaths at early ages is infant malnutrition, which according to the Food and Nutritional Surveillance System, grew from 12.6% to 13.1% between 2016 and 2017 amongst children under five years of age.
(Translated by Ashley Çaylakli – MA Translation – firstname.lastname@example.org) – Photos: Pixabay