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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                                       

Republic of Peru

Peru's economy reflects its varied geography - an arid coastal region, the Andes further inland, and tropical lands bordering Colombia and Brazil. Abundant mineral resources are found in the mountainous areas, and Peru's coastal waters provide excellent fishing grounds.

The Peruvian economy grew by more than 4% per year during the period 2002-06, with a stable exchange rate and low inflation. Growth jumped to 9% per year in 2007 and 2008, driven by higher world prices for minerals and metals and the government's aggressive trade liberalization strategies. Peru's rapid expansion has helped to reduce the national poverty rate by about 15% since 2002, though underemployment and inflation remain high.  [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 Peru.  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.


Centro Shama: From the streets of Lima to new possibilities

Living in Peru, July 14, 2008

[accessed 11 Aug  2013]

In Victor’s case, his mother was mentally unstable eating trash to survive when she was pregnant with him by the birth father he has never met.  He and his mother lived with a family that abused her physically and sexually forcing her to work as a prostitute.  Like many recent immigrants to Lima from the poverty stricken provinces, she also sold candy in the streets to passing cars to scrape out a living.  Victor, who at this time was under 9 years old, also sold in the streets with his mother.  He awoke one morning to a goodbye note and a bag of caramels left by his mother at the foot of the bed.  He has never seen her again. He spent days searching for her visiting her normal corners, all with no results. “Finally”, he said, notably still affected, “I got fed up with looking for my mom and I went to live in the streets.”  He survived for over a year and half selling caramels, receiving sporadic gifts of food, and sleeping in the streets of Lima. Eventually, a family he calls his adoptive family, although he knew them for only a week, approached him while he was sleeping in the street and asked if he wanted a better life.  “I felt so alone, like no one wanted me, and no one loved me,” he murmured.  “I didn’t want to keep living like that.”

To South America, with love

Emma Cowing, The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 17 June 2006

[accessed 5 July 2011]

For the past four years David has lived on the edge of human existence as a street boy, making his home in an abandoned sewer deep in the bowels of Lima, the rough, violent capital of Peru. He would leave his hiding place only to find something to eat, on countless occasions allowing himself to be sexually abused in return for a plate of food. At times he would become so desperate he would eat the earth itself, or pick at a piece of wall in a last attempt to find some nourishment.

At night, he would inhale cheap glue from a plastic bag in order to, as David puts it, "rub myself out and disappear", before falling asleep in the sewer. From the age of seven, when he was thrown out by a family that could no longer afford to feed him, it was the only life he had known.


*** 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]

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Children are also found loading and unloading produce in markets, collecting garbage, and working in informal gold mining sites.  In urban areas, children often sell in the streets and in markets.

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 – The government coordinated its anti-trafficking activities with NGOs. A Catholic order of nuns, the Sisters of Adoration, operated 3 programs for underage female prostitutes, a live-in center for approximately 75 girls (and 20 children of the victims) in Callao and 2 other walk-in centers in Lima. All facilities offered medical attention, job training, and self-esteem workshops in an attempt to remove underage girls from the streets. The government's Institute for Adolescents and Children provided the Adoring Sisters with the live-in facility and paid for utilities and food.

SECTION 6 WORKER RIGHTS – [d] Forms of child labor varied. In rural areas, many children worked on small farms with their parents, in artisanal mining, or were sent to cities to work as domestics. In urban settings, children often worked on the streets, performing, selling candy, begging or shining shoes; or as scavengers in municipal dumps. Children on the outskirts of Lima also labored in brick-making.

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

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 28 January 2000

[accessed 16 December 2010]

[26]. With regard to the Committee's recommendation (A/49/41, para. 164), the Committee takes note that the State party has submitted a proposal to Congress to raise the minimum legal age for admission to employment from 12 to 14 years. Nevertheless, the Committee is still concerned that economic exploitation of children remains one of the major social problems in the State party (e.g. in the indigenous communities in the highlands) and that law enforcement is insufficient to address this problem effectively.

An outstretched hand to Peru's street children

Mary Kovaleski Byrnes,, Cusco Peru, Jan. 5, 2009

[accessed 5 July 2011]

Early this month, the writer's husband photographed countless street children roaming the urban heart of Cusco, Peru, a popular tourist destination.

Maya is one of countless street children roaming this urban heart of Cusco as dusk settles in. Most of these children are hard at work, selling anything from finger puppets to pan flutes and candy. Like brightly-colored butterflies, they flit from one pack of tourists to the next, relentless, undeterred by the persistent “no, gracias” they receive.

In this shuffle of commerce and survival, so many of Cusco’s children are lost. Many of Cusco Department’s residents between ages 6 and 14 don’t attend school regularly, or at all. Even for those who do, there are complications. In search of better educational opportunities, some parents from surrounding rural villages rent basic rooms for their children to share while they go to school in Cusco. Evoking images of Peter Pan’s “lost boys,” these elementary-age children, mostly boys, are left to their own devices to care for themselves and one another and survive.

Vulnerable careers in Cusco

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research NWO, 1 October 2008

[accessed 5 July 2011]

Each day in the centre of the Peruvian town Cusco, hundreds of street vendors try to sell their souvenirs to tourists. Griet Steel investigated these street vendors and how the growth in tourism is affecting their existence.

'Vulnerable careers' is the title of Steel's study. Because despite the opportunities tourism provides to the street vendors in Cusco, their existence remains uncertain and subject to risks. For example, their income is variable: one day they earn more than the average weekly Peruvian salary and on another day nothing. Their political status is also uncertain. The local government tries to drive them out of the centre of Cusco and if the vendors are caught trading, the authorities seize their goods as well.

From employee to entrepreneur - Most street vendors live in the impoverished suburbs of Cusco. They are women, young people and children. In her analysis of this group, Steel negated a number of stereotypical images. For example, she demonstrated that not all street vendors are poor and that not all children who work on the street are 'street children'. Her analysis also reveals that street vending is a process from which it is possible to make a career. Street vendors can, for example, work their way up from employee to entrepreneur or from a postcard vendor to a vendor of paintings.

Peru: Red Alert scheme helps vulnerable street children

Inspire Magazine

[accessed 5 July 2011]

Carlos, 10, who arrived from the Peruvian mountains to work on the streets of San Juan of Lurigancho during his school holidays is just one of the children who had been helped by the Red Alert team.  At first he cleaned cars. Later he sold sweets and sang songs on the buses to earn a little money. When his holiday ended and it was time to go home, he did not have enough money for his return fare. With no money for rent, he had to look for a park bench to sleep on. He was in great danger of becoming a street child permanently.  Two days passed, until he was found by one of the Red Alert team who look out for new arrivals on the street.

Peru fact finding day for Duns Primary School

Berwickshire News, 10 October 2007

[accessed 5 July 2011]

The volunteers faced a number of difficulties while they were in South America, including a road blockade by striking mine workers. Yet their main concern was the poverty faced by the street children who were being housed in the Vine Trust supported centres. Many had suffered brutal beatings by police after being put on the streets by parents who could no longer afford to keep them. Some children were even poisoned by Peru's police and were often dumped in the desert.

At Puerto Alegria in the Peruvian rainforest, the poverty was said to be even worse. Mike Ledington said: "The poverty was more striking in Puerto Alegria (than Kusi). There were open sewers, rats running around, kids playing in human faeces. It was described as 'hell on earth', which sums it up."

Peru's child workers stake their claims

Cisneros, Luis-Jaime, UNESCO Courier, May 01, 1999

[accessed 5 July 2011]

Poverty, unemployment and family problems, including violence, have pushed them onto the streets. Often it isn’t possible–or even desirable–for them to return home to their parents. They frequently work in very harsh conditions and are exploited and mistreated.

From the Field - Stories from Street Children in Peru

[access information unavailable]

We all slept in a garden.  They started smoking and told me to try it, but I had heard that smoking glue is bad and told them no.  They insisted and called me a sissy for not trying it, but I didn't pay attention and kep sleeping.  Then they started smoking marijuana with coca base paste.  They wanted me to try that, too.  I wanted to, but I had a friend named Posheco who liked me, and he told them not to give my any, so they stopped insisting.  I had other friends who stole things, and their girlfriends were or are prostitutes.  I started hanging out with them and learned to steal things.

Lawyer Helps Peru's Street Kids

BBC News, 9 July, 2003

[accessed 5 July 2011]

Ed Saunders, 35, from Cardiff, is planning his fourth trip to the south American country to help with the Street Children of Peru charity project.  "Boys are often thrown out of their homes when they are four or five years old and left to fend for themselves.  "Their life expectancy is very low and they often die by the time they are 12 usually from hypothermia because the temperature at night drops very low.

Adventists Act to Help Street Children in Peru

Jonathan Gallagher, Adventist News Network ANN, Lima, June 13, 2000

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

[accessed 5 July 2011]

The street children are at high social risk, with 99 percent involved with substance abuse, particularly glue-sniffing.  One-third of the children are girls, and about ten percent are prostitutes.  In one recent case, a fifteen-year-old girl who was eight months pregnant was still working the streets—now she is being helped along with her baby in the Nuevo Rumbo program.

'Las Delicias' Center for Street Children

Bruce Peru

[accessed 5 July 2011]

Las Delicias Children's Center is part of a non-profit organization operating from the city of Trujillo, Peru, with the aim of giving aid and support to children from impoverished backgrounds living in and around the area. A team of international and Peruvian volunteers provide food, classes and activities to children who would otherwise be in the streets.

Street kids, they come to us as they are; we make of them what they let us

Street Kids Peru

[accessed 5 July 2011]

HISTORY OF OUR VOLUNTEER WORK IN PERU, LATIN AMERICA - Our work since 2001 has consisted of providing some form of assistance to over 5,000 street kids and 2,000 impoverished mothers in and around the north Peru city of Trujillo. In the Peru beach town of Delicias we have acquired a large ocean-front property, on which we are constructing a shelter for abandoned pregnant adolescent rape victims (street kids), of which there sadly are many in this part of Latin America.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Street Children - Peru",, [accessed <date>]