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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                               

Oriental Republic of Uruguay

Uruguay's economy is characterized by an export-oriented agricultural sector, a well-educated work force, and high levels of social spending. After averaging growth of 5% annually during 1996-98, in 1999-2002 the economy suffered a major downturn, stemming largely from the spillover effects of the economic problems of its large neighbors, Argentina and Brazil.

Real GDP fell in four years by nearly 20%, with 2002 the worst year. The unemployment rate rose, inflation surged, and the burden of external debt doubled. Financial assistance from the IMF helped stem the damage. Uruguay restructured its external debt in 2003 without asking creditors to accept a reduction on the principal. Economic growth for Uruguay resumed, and averaged 8% annually during the period 2004-08.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Uruguay

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Uruguay.  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.


Ricardo: ‘The only thing I hate in the world is the police’

Jenny Smith, New Internationalist Magazine, Issue 366, April 1, 2004

[accessed 24 August 2011]

Ricardo’s scarred hands are always busy – wiping the faces of smaller children, opening doors for others, picking up dropped items and returning them. He is desperately trying to give to others that which he has never had on Montevideo’s unwelcoming streets – comfort, pleasure and the security of knowing that there is a helping hand when you need one.


*** 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 7 January 2011]

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - The majority of child work occurs in the informal sector, where children work in agriculture, street vending, garbage collection, and begging.

CURRENT GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND PROGRAMS TO ELIMINATE THE WORST FORMS OF CHILD LABOR - In addition, INAU maintains shelters for at-risk children, operates a confidential hotline for child victims of domestic abuse, and cooperates with an NGO to provide food vouchers to parents of street children who are sent to school. INAU also offers various services for adolescents, such as work training and safety programs, and educational and placement services.

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 11 February 2020]

SECTION 6 WORKER RIGHTS – [d] The law protects children against exploitation in the workplace, including a prohibition of forced or compulsory labor, and the Ministry of Labor and Social Security is responsible for enforcing it. Enforcement was difficult due to a lack of resources and because most child labor was in the informal sector (which accounted for 40 percent of total employment in the country). Some children worked as street vendors in the expanding informal sector or in agricultural activities, areas that generally were regulated less strictly and where pay was lower than in the formal sector.

A program by INAU and an NGO continued to provide food vouchers of $58 (1,360 pesos) per month to parents who take their children off the streets and send them to school. This amount approximated what a child might earn working on the street, and the program was considered successful.

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

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 11 October 1996

[accessed 7 January 2011]

[7] The Committee, while recognizing the efforts undertaken by the authorities in the collection of data, is concerned at the insufficient measures adopted to collect disaggregated data on the situation of all children, particularly those belonging to the most disadvantaged groups, including black children, disabled children, street children, children placed in institutions, including institutions of a penal nature, ill-treated and abused children or children from economically disadvantaged groups, which constitutes a major obstacle to the effective and full implementation of the provisions of the Convention.

World 4 Kids Uruguay Project

[Last access date unavailable]

i. EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT - Many street children have not responded successfully to all attempts to reintegrate them into the traditional education system. For these children, the streets are their main space of socialization. Their families have often lost the ability to nurture, educate and protect. Those in especially severe economic difficulties cannot or will not give to education the attention needed or understand the fundamental importance it deserves as it is not considered a valuable asset. As a consequence many of the children have not learned to read and write and most knowledge acquired in their socialization process in the street environment does not allow them to succeed in schools where traditional teaching methodologies are used. Therefore an alternative approach to educating street children is needed. The project will provide it through a close and personal support to each child, allowing children to reach appropriate educational levels to succeed in the system, thereby providing them with better chances. The methodology will include workshops managed by qualified and experienced educators, the use of games, as well as necessary support to ensure physical and mental development.

AS Assembly Continues Special Session, Speakers Address Negative Impact of Armed Conflict on Children

Press Release, UN General Assembly, GA/10019, 9 May 2002

[accessed 13 January 2017]

LUIS HIERRO LOPEZ, Vice-President of Uruguay, said through various plans and programmes implemented over the past decade, Uruguay had successfully achieved many of the goals set by the 1990 Children’s Summit, namely, in the areas of health and nutrition, school enrolment, the fight against poverty, and the integration of children into the social life of the nation.  Uruguay was the highest-ranking Latin American country on the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) “Human Development Index” and, in that respect, conditions for its children generally reflected the living conditions of the adult population.

Other advances in education included virtual universal school enrolment -– some 99 per cent of pupils between the ages of four and 12 were covered by the system.  Indeed, the wide-scale enrolment of four- and five-year olds might be the first such achievement in the world.  He went on to highlight Uruguay’s success in the areas of health and nutrition and poverty.  He noted that Uruguay had very high rates of immunization and vaccination coverage.  Overall mortality rates related to HIV/AIDS had also declined over the past four years.

More and More Children Help Support Their Families

Raul Pierri, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, Montevideo, April 29, 2004

[accessed 8 August 2011]

[accessed 13 January 2017]

In the morning the boys attend school (classes are held in two shifts in Uruguay). But in the afternoon, rain or shine, they head downtown to 18 de Julio, Montevideo's main avenue, to earn a few pesos that they take home to their mother in their shack in one of the city's slums.

Ashoka Fellow Profile - Mora Ines Podestá Baratta

Ashoka International

[accessed 8 August 2011]

[accessed 13 January 2017]

Mora's "street mentor network" is perhaps her most innovative invention. She identifies adults who frequently come into contact with street children because of their daily routines–shop owners, street vendors, mail carriers, delivery persons or waiters. She trains them and helps them to develop supportive and mentoring relationships with identified street children. Mora teaches her mentors how to help the street children and familiarizes them with the resources available.

Caring for Orphans & Vulnerable Children

Social Responsibility, Johnson & Johnson, February 22, 2005

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

[accessed 8 August 2011]

ASSISTING STREET CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES − URUGUAY - The country of Uruguay, one of the smallest countries in South America, has a population of just over three million. Approximately half of the population lives within the boundaries of the capital city, Montevideo. Montevideo is plagued with increasing poverty and a rising number of street children. Due to extreme poverty, many of the children in Uruguay cannot go to school and instead turn to the streets where they are exposed to sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and AIDS.

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