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“Criadazgo” is a form of modern slavery
Latinamerica Press
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Boys and girls are given by their families for domestic work in exchange for room and board.

 About 47,000 boys, girls and adolescents in Paraguay  are in conditions of “criadazgo” — or working as domestic servants —, a situation analogous to personal slavery , according to statistics of the National Secretariat of Childhood and Adolescents (SNNA).

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), criadazgo is still a cultural practice in which “boys and girls from poor, rural families go to live in the homes of third parties to provide domestic service, in exchange for room and board. Frequently they do not attend school and are exposed to abuse.” A 45 percent of children in the situation of criadazgo work every day and only 26 percent have two hours a day for rest, UNICEF says.

For the representative of UNICEF in Paraguay, Regina Castillo, criadazgo is a form of modern slavery that deprives boys and girls of their family and of their childhood. Also, this practice has nothing to do with adoption or placement for tutoring, since the children are given up and work all day.

The public prosecutor, María Teresa Martínez, of the Specialized Unit in the Fight Against the Trafficking of Persons and the Sexual Exploitation of Boys, Girls and Adolescents of the Public Ministry, reported at the Summit of Judges on the Trafficking of Persons and Organized Crime, organized by the Vatican at the beginning of June, that the identified causes of criadazgo are “poverty, gender inequality and the lack of job opportunities” in Paraguay.

 Mistreatment and sexual abuse

 The death in January of Carolina Marín, 14 years old, from blows received from the husband of her tutor, brought to light, once again, the danger in which these boys and girls are found.

Tomás Eligio Ferreira, retired military, punished Marín who worked as a servant in the house of Ramona Melgarejo, beating her on the shoulders and legs which impacted her internal organs. The girl arrived in the house of Melgarejo when she was three years old, given away by the orphanage where she lived until the justice system terminated her mother’s parental rights.

After the death of the girl, the Minister of Childhood and Adolescence, Carlos Zárate, affirmed that “all criadazgo is detrimental to the rights of boys, girls and adolescents.”

Although this practice is “culturally accepted”, this doesn’t mean that it is not abusive. “Many times the families of origin believe that their child is going to be better off in the house of another person, but that is not the case,” said the Minister in a press conference.

“A child in a situation of criadazgo has a high possibility of being the victim of mistreatment and sexual abuse,” said the Minister. “This practice can be considered the precursor to sexual exploitation.”

  Zárate admitted that although the Integrated Law against the Trafficking of Persons does not include criadazgo, “there is a similar legal situation that could be used [to sanction it as a crime], which is personal servitude. We are working with the Legislative to develop adequate legislation and have the condition of criadazgo established with exactitude so that nobody can escape penal sanction.” —Latinamerica Press.








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