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Street Children

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                    

Republic of Paraguay

Landlocked Paraguay has a market economy marked by a large informal sector, featuring reexport of imported consumer goods to neighboring countries, as well as the activities of thousands of microenterprises and urban street vendors. A large percentage of the population, especially in rural areas, derives its living from agricultural activity, often on a subsistence basis. Because of the importance of the informal sector, accurate economic measures are difficult to obtain. On a per capita basis, real income has stagnated at 1980 levels.

The economy rebounded between 2003 and 2008, however, as growing world demand for commodities combined with high prices and favorable weather to support Paraguay's commodity-based export expansion. Paraguay is the sixth largest soy producer in the world.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Paraguay

Paraguay is principally a source and transit country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation, as well as a source and transit country for men, women, and children trafficked into forced labor. Most Paraguayan victims are trafficked to Argentina and Spain; smaller numbers of victims are trafficked to Brazil, Chile, Italy, and Bolivia.

The involuntary domestic servitude of adults and children within the country is a serious problem. Indigenous persons are vulnerable to forced labor exploitation, particularly in the Chaco region. Poor children are trafficked from rural areas to urban centers such as Asuncion, Ciudad del Este, and Encarnacion for commercial sexual exploitation and domestic servitude. Street children and working children are common targets for trafficking recruiters. According to the ILO, some traffickers coerce underage males, known as “taxi boys,” into transgendered prostitution. Some of these boys are trafficked abroad, particularly to Italy. Trafficking of Paraguayan and Brazilian women, girls, and boys for commercial sexual exploitation commonly occurs in the Tri-Border Area of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Paraguay.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


International Federation of Journalists - The 2002 Jury Report

International Federation of Journalists, 14 October 2002

[accessed 9 September 2014]

[accessed 21 February 2019]


The series of five articles by Julio César Benegas concerning human violations within the Military Service of Paraguay is remarkable journalism, which highlights the corruption which is at the core of the recruitment of child soldiers as well as the cultural aspects involved. These articles also exposed the exploitation of child soldiers and other human rights violations, which resulted in the death of 10 soldiers a year on average. For military personnel Paraguay is one of the most dangerous countries worldwide in peaceful times, Benegas concluded in his report.

*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Paraguay

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 21 June 2021]


The Labor Ministry did not confirm instances of debt bondage in the Chaco region but did not dismiss the possibility that it continued to exist. In that region there were reports children worked alongside their parents in debt bondage on cattle ranches, on dairy farms, and in charcoal factories.


Despite the government’s significant advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor, child labor continued to occur in sugar, brick, and limestone production; domestic service; and small-scale agriculture. Children also worked in manufacturing, restaurants, and other service industries. Boys were often victims of forced labor in domestic service, crime, and in some cases as horse jockeys.

In exchange for work, employers promised room, board, and financial support for school to child domestic servants. Some of these children were victims of human trafficking for the purposes of forced child labor, did not receive pay or the promised benefits in exchange for work, suffered from sexual exploitation, and often lacked access to education.

The worst forms of child labor occurred where malnourished, abused, and neglected children worked in unhealthy and hazardous conditions selling goods or services on the street, working in factories, or harvesting crops. Children were used, procured, and offered to third parties for illicit activities including commercial sexual exploitation (see also section 6, Children), sometimes with the knowledge of parents and guardians who received remuneration. Some minors were involved in forced criminality, such as acting as drug smugglers for criminal syndicates along the border with Brazil. Children reportedly worked in debt bondage alongside their parents in the Chaco region.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 8 July 2020]


Some 24 percent of the population lived in poverty in 2018, with 4.8 percent living in extreme poverty. Both figures have fallen slightly in recent years. Indigenous populations are particularly affected. Inequality in land ownership and income is extremely high and social mobility very limited. Reports of forced labor and slavery periodically surface.

The ongoing illegal practice of criadazgo, the temporary adoption in which children, generally from poor families, work without pay for wealthier ones, severely limits the freedom of roughly 47,000 children across the country.

2017 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2018

[accessed 22 April 2019]

[accessed 5 May 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 802]

Criadazgo, a practice in which middle-class and wealthy families informally employ and house child domestic workers from impoverished families, is pervasive in Paraguay; the 2011 National Survey of Child and Adolescent Activities estimated that more than 46,000 children were engaged in criadazgo. Many of these children are in situations of domestic servitude, subjected to violence and abuse, and highly vulnerable to sex trafficking. (2; 12; 8; 15; 29; 5; 24; 9) Children are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation in Ciudad del Este; in the Tri-Border area between Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil; and along commercial shipping routes on the Paraguay River. (24; 5) Children work alongside their parents in debt bondage on cattle ranches, dairy farms, and charcoal factories in the remote Chaco region. (12; 5; 23; 24) Children shine shoes on the street and in the Palace of Justice, the Supreme Court building. (12).

Save the Children

Save the Children Sweden in Latin America and the Caribbean

[accessed 16 December 2010]

[accessed 5 May 2020]

CIVIL SOCIETY - In particular, Save the Children Sweden operates through a partnership with Global Infancia in Paraguay and CECODAP in Venezuela; the Latin American and Caribbean Network for the Defense of Boys, Girls and Adolescents’ Rights (REDLAMYC), a network gathering over 2300 organizations; national children’s organization networks in El Salvador (RENAES), Paraguay (PLATAFORMA) and Peru (REDNNA) that together represent over 2500 children, and the Latin American Network of Boys, Girls and Adolescents (REDNNYA), with active members in Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela.

Triple Border Project,Ciudad del Este, Paraguay

International Labour Organisation ILO Office for United Kingdom and Ireland, 19 March 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 10 September 2011]

PERSONAL STORY MABELIA - Mabelia is 10 years old. On November 30, 2002, she was found by a merchant from Ciudad del Este on Adraina Jara y Pampliega street. It was approximately 9:00 p.m. when she was found in, what is perhaps, one of the most frequented corners of the centre of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay.

She was very dirty. Dressed in pants and a pullover, and wearing Japanese-style slippers, when she was found she had about 12 USD (80.000 Gs, Guaraníes) in her pockets, a product of her 'sexual activity'. It had been 48 hours since she had returned to her mother's home, but she feared going back, since she had not met the goal that had been established by her mother, Doña Maria.

At the Courthouse, the young girl told the judge that the money found in her pockets was the fruit of her 'sexual work'. She explained that, encouraged by her mother, she would leave her house in the morning and sometimes would cross the Puente de la Amistad (Friendship Bridge)to the border city of Foz de Iguazu in Brazil on the pretext of buying candies to sell later. She admitted to having an 'established clientele'. - htcp

ILO to mark World Day Against Child Labour (12 June 2003)

International Labour Organisation (ILO) News, Geneva, 10 June 2003

[accessed 16 December 2010]

[accessed 11 February 2018]

FROM LATIN AMERICA - The Triple Border region - where Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil intersect - is a vast area with porous borders, major regional commercial and tourism centres and a population of almost 500,000. The lack of vigorous border checks and law enforcement in the region facilitates illegal commerce, including weapons, drugs and the commercial sexual exploitation of minors.

Marcelino Gomes Paredes and Cristian Ariel Nuñez - 14 years of age

OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights - Report Nº 82/03, Petition 12.330, October 22, 2003

[accessed 16 December 2010]


7. The petitioners argue that, despite the clear legal provisions prohibiting the recruitment of children under the age of 18, and repeated complaints on this score, “the military and police forces have made it a systematic, constant and frequent practice to recruit minors between the ages of 12 and 17, and to date no steps have been taken to curb this practice.”

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 12 October 2001

[accessed 16 December 2010]

[4] In light of its previous recommendation (CRC/C/15/Add.75, para. 41), the Committee notes with satisfaction the promulgation in 1997 of the Adoption Act to combat trafficking in children and establish strict control over all matters connected with adoption, especially inter-country adoption.

[49] The Committee expresses its deep concern that, with regard to the increasing phenomenon of commercial sexual exploitation of children, there are no data available, legislation is inadequate, cases involving sexually exploited children are often not investigated and prosecuted, victims are criminalized, and rehabilitation programs are not available. It further notes that a national plan against commercial sexual exploitation of children has not been developed.


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 10 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – Trafficking victims within the country worked in the sex industry. Underage girls reportedly also were forced to work as criadas, both domestically and in neighboring countries. According to the Secretariat for Children and Adolescents, many of these children were sexually abused. Government and NGO studies showed that most of the girls trafficked were working as street vendors when traffickers targeted them and that 70 percent of victims had drug addictions. The local NGO Grupo Luna Nueva and the International Organization for Migration reported that trafficking of women and children increased by 27 percent in the past five years.

The trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation was a high-profit, low-risk activity for traffickers who moved easily across the borders with Argentina and Brazil. The traffickers took advantage of the poor who lived in the border departments, promising women, and in many cases young girls, jobs in the retail industry. In some cases, the parents were fully aware that their daughters planned to work in other cities or countries but were unaware of the conditions and actual job.

On several occasions, Argentine police rescued Paraguayan women from Buenos Aires brothels, where they had been forced to work as prostitutes. On June 27, Argentine authorities detained two men in Buenos Aires for their involvement in holding 27 women and 5 young girls (one of whom was pregnant) in various locations for prostitution. On July 11, the country's ambassador to Argentina stated that 33 women and 10 girls had been rescued from brothels in Argentina. In both instances, the victims later were repatriated.

The government's primary focus in protecting victims was the repatriation of its own citizens.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 16 December 2010]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Paraguay is a source country for women and children trafficked to Argentina and Spain for sexual exploitation and forced labor as well as a destination country for girls trafficked from neighboring countries for sexual exploitation.  There are reports of children working as prostitutes in the border regions of Ciudad del Este, Hernandarias and Encarnación, where trafficking is a particular problem.  Children from poor families are trafficked internally from rural to urban areas.  Forcible recruitment of adolescents into the armed forces has decreased in recent years due to public pressure

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