A study released June 22 by the International Labor Organization (ILO) revealed the profile of children who work on pineapple plantations in the municipality of Santa Rita, in the northeastern Brazilian state of Paraíba.
The study, done in 2004, indicates that 108 children and youngsters between the ages of 5 and 18 worked on pineapple plantations in the region.
According to the ILO projects coordinator, Renato Mendes, the children were exposed to pesticide contamination and submitted to long workdays and excessive burdens owing to the weight they were required to carry. Many of them have their fingerprints annihilated by the sharpness and acidity of the fruit.
The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics’ (IBGE) 2002 census showed that, at the time, Santa Rita possessed 1,132 working children and adolescents, nearly half of them engaged in risky activities. In terms of child labor, the city ranked fifth in the state.
The ILO’s Convention 182, adopted by the International Labor Conference in 1999 and ratified by Brazil, affirms that all work that exposes children to risks should be considered dangerous and should therefore be placed in the category of the worst form of child labor.
According to the ILO’s coordinator of the International Program for the Erradication of Child Labor, Pedro Américo, the function of the organization is not to do away with child labor.
"Our role is to see to it that Brazil and Brazilian social actors, such as employers, workers, and the government itself, fulfill their international commitments."
According to the National Household Sample Survey (PNAD), in 2004 there were 2.7 million working children and adolescents in Brazil between the ages of 5 and 15.
In 2001 the same survey showed that Paraíba had 992,820 children and adolescents between the ages of 5 and 17 and that 13% of them worked. Of all the working children and adolescents in the state, 60% were engaged in agriculture.