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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                           

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]


CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text 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 aspect(s) of street life are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got there, how they survive, and how some manage to leave the street.  Perhaps your paper could focus on how some street children abuse the public and how they are abused by the public … and how they abuse each other.  Would you like to write about market children? homeless children?  Sexual and labor exploitation? begging? violence? addiction? hunger? neglect? etc.  There is a lot to the subject of Street Children.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  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.


The Specific Situation Of The Street Children

TOS Ministries International, Leipzig Germany

[accessed 3 July 2011]

More than 50% of Paraguay’s population is younger than 17. One in five children has to work more than 9 hours per day. Official figures estimate that 400,000 children are working in Paraguay. They work on highways, at street corners, bus or train stations and in private homes. Often they are runaways from rural areas, who tried to escape the abuse, violence and hunger at home, and who ended up in prostitution, violence and drugs.

Don Bosco Roga

Project for the People of Paraguay

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 5 July 2011]

In Asuncion street children present a very big problem. A full 81% of all children who work in the streets have families, but these families are extremely dysfunctional. The children must bring home a specified amount of money each night, or they are punished by their parents. Only 19% of all street children have no families.


*** ARCHIVES ***

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]

CURRENT GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND PROGRAMS TO ELIMINATE THE WORST FORMS OF CHILD LABOR - The Ministry of Public Health’s Social Welfare Office has developed ongoing programs that offer financial help to vulnerable groups including street children.  The Government of Spain’s Development Agency is supporting a program to reform curriculum, provide educational services to adolescents who do not have a primary school education, and address the educational needs of street children.

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]

SECTION 6 WORKER RIGHTS – [d] Although the labor code prohibits work by children under age 14, in August the press reported government research documenting that approximately 40 percent of the children in primary grades worked in street vending jobs during school hours in Ciudad del Este.

The 2001 census reported that 5 percent of the workforce was under the age of 14. According to the NGO Organization for the Eradication of Child Labor (COETI), 265 thousand children, or 13.6 percent of those between the ages of 5 and 17, worked outside their homes, many in unsafe conditions. In supermarkets, boys as young as age 7 bagged and carried groceries to customers' cars for tips. Thousands of children in urban areas, many of them younger than 12 years of age, were engaged in informal employment, such as selling newspapers and sundries and cleaning car windows. Many of the children who worked on the streets suffered from malnutrition and disease and lacked access to education. Some employers of the estimated 11,500 young girls working as criadas denied them access to education and mistreated them. According to the Secretariat for Children and Adolescents, many of these children were also sexually abused.

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]

[47] The Committee expresses its deep concern at the increasing number of children who are exploited economically, in particular those under 14 years of age. In particular, it notes cases of abuse of girls in domestic service and a large number of children working in the streets, often at night and in unhealthy conditions, especially in the capital, Asunción. It also notes that ILO Convention No. 138 concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment has not been ratified.

PARAGUAY: "Today a New Country Is Born," Says New President

David Vargas, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, Pozo Colorado, Paraguay, Jul 1 2008

[accessed 5 July 2011]

[accessed 27 December 2016]

According to the last census, there are 87,000 indigenous people in Paraguay, making up 1.6 percent of the population of six million. (By contrast, 95 percent of Paraguayans are of mixed-race - predominantly Spanish and Guaraní - descent). And while 35 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, according to official figures, native communities are the poorest of the poor.

Lugo also reaffirmed his campaign pledge to put top priority on fighting poverty. He said he would "personally" take a hand in improving the lot of the army of street children cleaning windshields for a few coins or hawking candy on the streets of the capital.

But with regard to solving this problem, he said "It would not be prudent or responsible to announce a timeframe. I don't know how long it will take to provide a response to this situation, and I don't know if we will be able to definitively do away with the monster of poverty, but I want you to know that the children will be the personal concern of this president."

The Boys From Paraguay

Polly Curtis, The Guardian, 14 March 2003

[accessed 5 July 2011]

Most of the children there had parents who lived in the city but couldn't afford to look after them, were in prison, or had left for Brazil to find work. Some had been abused. Most of them had a pretty rough story to tell.

Facts - An International Perspective


[accessed 5 July 2011]

The problem of solvent abuse isn’t confined to the United Kingdom. Incidents of sniffing and abuse have been reported worldwide, although the nature and extent of the problem differs from country to country and young people may sniff for a number of different reasons. In Paraguay, for example, it is thought that 80-85% of street children have experimented with VSA.

The protection of street children

ECPAT International Newsletters, Issue No : 47  1/April/2004

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

[accessed 5 July 2011]

The game of realities is terrible. It is to be hoped that a country that has a National Plan of Action against CSEC (Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children) would search for real solutions to its social problems. Yet plans, codes and laws run the risk of being little more than papers filed away in bureaucratic offices, and the media’s coverage of issues related to these plans, codes and laws is fleeting.

El Embudo (The Funnel)

Ashoka, Changemakers, April 1999

[accessed 5 July 2011]

In 1998, La Casa launched the publication of the book El Embudo, which focuses on the experiences and serious problems facing boys and adolescents in prison. Excerpts from El Embudo are presented here. This is a clandestine book, assembled over two years. It documents, through secret interviews and hidden-camera photographs, the abuse and neglect of kids in juvenile prisons.

We started to look at the rural youth who come to the city, face miserable conditions, have no work and enter into prostitution or delinquency," explained Soares. "We're trying to stimulate a discussion on the concepts of justice – and how our society condones its own wrong doings”

Recommendations on the Rights of Children - Street Children

Org of American States - Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Annual Report 2001

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

[accessed 5 July 2011]

126. The Commission cannot neglect to mention an extremely serious act that was harmful to street children, which led to a petition that it received on December 23, 2000. The arrest on November 27, 28, and 29, 2000, of boys and girls who work in the streets by juvenile court judge Mercedes Brítez de Buzó ”was a poverty cleansing operation on the streets of the capital”

Rights Of The Child

Statement by the Consortium for Street Children to the fifty-seventh session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, 7 April 2001

[accessed 5 July 2011]

Specific examples of alleged violations that have come to the attention of the Consortium for Street Children over the past year include: Paraguay – the inhuman conditions and ill-treatment, sometimes amounting to torture, endemic in the Panchito López Juvenile Detention Center, as highlighted in a recent report by Amnesty International (April 2001) and in the report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture (E/CN.4/2001/66, para. 835)

Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights CESCR Concluding Observations

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 14 May 1996

[accessed 5 July 2011]

15. The Committee is particularly concerned about the large number of child workers and street children in Paraguay. It draws attention to the inadequacy of the measures taken by the Government to combat these phenomena, which are serious violations of the fundamental rights of the child.

27. The Committee recommends that the State party should launch a program, in cooperation with UNICEF and ILO, to combat the exploitation of child labor and the abandonment and exploitation of street children.

The Institute del Manana (Institute of Tomorrow)

Project for the People of Paraguay

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

[accessed 5 July 2011]

The Institute del Manana (Institute of Tomorrow) is a residential program for boys, patterned after to Boys Town in the U.S..  Boys who have had some contact with the law live, work and attend school in the facility on a full time basis.

El Abrigo

[Last access date unavailable]

El Abrigo (The House of Shelter and Care) is operated by a group of Mennonites in Asuncion. The shelter is designed for street kids and provides a loving, predictable atmosphere in which young children thrive. El Abrigo houses boys and girls ages 6-13 in clean, well kept rooms equipped with showers, toilets, bunk beds and desks for studying. The staff at the shelter use a point system with the children to motivate appropriate behavior.

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