IMF Pats Brazil on the Back


IMF Pats Brazil on the Back

The presence of children in the streets of Brazil has become so
common that the general public
now accepts the phenomenon
as simply a
fact of life. Specialists see a need to
establish programs
and public policies to address the
problem. Besides, governmental
bureaucracy in the area needs to
be eliminated.

by:
Adital

 

In Latin America, Brazil and Mexico have the greatest number of
street children. The governments of these
countries have not assumed a role in
eliminating this problem, leaving it to
civilian associations/groups.

Judith Calderon, a journalist who has
dedicated her work to the problem of street children, recently researched this
theme in the countries of Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and
Nicaragua. She commented on a Mexican radio program that the
biggest problems in these Latin American
countries are a lack of government initiative and
social indifference.

Calderon’s research became a book entitled,
Infancy Without Help, which related her experiences with street boys
and girls. She explained that girls are more vulnerable to violence when they begin
to live in the streets. She cited the case of
Brazil where very young girls are subjected to harassment, mistreatment and sexual abuse.

Luis Enrique Hernández, coordinator of
O Caracol, an organization for children in Mexico, said that a number
of factors explain why children leave their homes and live on
the street. Among these factors are extreme poverty and
physical, emotional or sexual abuse in the
home. Many women who live in misery and who
have been abandoned by their partner will
look for a new man to act as father in
the home.

Many times this new father is abusive to the
woman’s children, which prompt them to leave the
house. He went on to add that when girls
go to the street, they will often find a group of adolescents with
whom they immediately identify as
they too have been victims of violence.
The biggest growing age group of street children is 15-23 year-olds.

Aquiles Coliomoro, a juridical counselor for Casa da Mercedes,
stated that another dimension of the problem are
girls who come to the city from the
countryside. They often find work as domestics, and then
suffer harassment from their
employers. They flee to the streets and end up falling
into networks of prostitution and
pornography. A lack of access to basic
services and food often force these girls to give sexual favors
in exchange for presents or commodities.

Specialists agree that a central problem is that street children
have become so common that the general public accept
the phenomenon as simply a fact of
life. Also, the specialists see a real need to
establish programs and public policies which
will effectively address the problem.
Finally, governmental bureaucracy needs to be eliminated so that
organizations which act in this area may receive help quickly.

Comments may be sent to Adital (Agência de Informação Frei Tito para a América Latina—Friar Tito
Information Agency for Latin America) adital@adital.org.br

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