Consumption Slaves

In the twenty-first century, more than 45 million people around the world live in
precarious work conditions, similar to slavery. They are men and women with their human rights violated, employed in various production chains. A routine that expands with the growing demand for consumers. Millions of people, including children, suffer in silence, sometimes without being able to ask for help. Can it be changed?

Rubber tapper in makeshift camp at Pará. by Sérgio CarvalhoMuseu do Amanhã


Slavery in Brazil was abolished in 1888. However, more than 120 years after signing the "Golden Law", there are still cases of Brazilians working in degrading conditions similar to slavery. National laws and international treaties with severe punishment to those who disobey rules are not enough to stop extensive and exhaustive activities related to the sectors of agriculture, textile industry, food and construction. Its's not only a Brazilian problem. It is worldwide. According to the Global Index of Slavery, produced by Walk Free NGO Foundation and published in 2016, 45.8 million people from 167 countries live in conditions equivalent to modern slavery. In the picture there is a tapper found in precarious housing in Pará (photo: Sergio Carvalho).

Man working in the production of charcoal at Mato Grosso do Sul. by Sérgio CarvalhoMuseu do Amanhã

The situations, in which workers' employment conditions are degrading and, in order to fulfill their duties, they are forced to take up exhaustive work days or to serve akin to bonded labor, are equivalent to modern slavery. In the picture (2007) there is a man found living in degrading conditions by a charcoal plant Mato Grosso (photo: Sergio Carvalho).

Worker on sugar cane field at Ceará by Sérgio CarvalhoMuseu do Amanhã

Labour and Employment Ministry data shows that between 1995 and 2015, 49,816 people were released from jobs in conditions similar to slavery in Brazil. All inspections were carried out by the Ministry of Labor, Federal Police and Federal Highway Police. In the picture there is a cane field worker in Ceará, in 2009 (photo: Sergio Carvalho).

Man was rescued in slave type work at Ceara by Sérgio CarvalhoMuseu do Amanhã

According to the organization Reporter Brazil , the freed workers are mostly internal or external migrants who have left their homes for agricultural expansion region or large urban centers. Seeking new opportunities or they were lured by false promises. In the image, cane field worker in Ceará, rescued in operation 2008 ( photo : Sergio Carvalho).

Workers in sugar cane field at Minas Gerais by Sérgio CarvalhoMuseu do Amanhã


Do you know where what you eat comes from? And what you wear? And what you buy for your home? In Brazil, it is still difficult to obtain information on the chain of production and distribution of key economic sectors. It is not good because it can hide irregularities and foster human rights abuses. A survey of the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT, in portuguese), from the federal government, shows that 30% of workers released between 2003 and 2014 had been hired by companies providing service for the livestock sector; 25 % were linked to sugarcane; 8% to charcoal; and 10% of workers were hired by production chains linked to deforestation and construction (photo: Sergio Carvalho).

Worker in charcoal production in Piauí by Sérgio CarvalhoMuseu do Amanhã

Only in 2015, there were at least 1,111 workers released from jobs in conditions similar to slavery in Brazil, according to the Ministry of Labour. Minas Gerais was the state with the highest number of cases, followed by Maranhão and Rio de Janeiro. The image from 2008 shows a man rescued from poor working conditions in charcoal Piaui (photo: Sergio Carvalho) .

Worker in sugar cane field at Ceará by Sérgio CarvalhoMuseu do Amanhã


According to the Criminal Code, reducing someone to a condition similar to slavery or subjecting it to hard labor or the exhausting work days is a crime. The responsible for it, if convicted, could be imprisoned for up to eight years and would have to pay a fine. Recruiting workers to get them to foreign territories and enticing people, leading them to other parts of the country, is also crime (photo: Sergio Carvalho).

Worker in charcoal production in Piauí by Sérgio CarvalhoMuseu do Amanhã

While people subjected to forced labor suffer the consequences of a degrading life, like the charcoal production workers in several regions of Brazil, their employers earn a lot of profit - illegally. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), linked to the United Nations agency, sectors that use forced labor have approximate earnings of US $ 150 billion every year (photo: Sergio Carvalho).

In Paraná, woman was rescued in slave type work by Sérgio CarvalhoMuseu do Amanhã

Have you ever heard about "quartinho de empregada" expression (very common in Brazil)? Those who live in an apartment must have seen this distinctive space: small, windowless, where a bed barely fits. But, unfortunately, it is where many people, especially women , are allocated when hired to work in family homes. In Philippines, for instance, mothers leave children behind towards richer countries, such as Singapore, where they are hired as nannies or cleaning service. However, many of them are literally trapped in homes, sleeping on the floor often without any chance to return home (photo: Sergio Carvalho).

Child labour at Brazil by Sérgio CarvalhoMuseu do Amanhã


Child labor is a huge social problem in Brazil. Extreme poverty in some regions requires parents to send their children to the streets, roads or crops to help the family subsistence. They leave behind the school and other dreams, with one certainty: that their future is uncertain (photo: Sergio Carvalho).

Child working on cattle ranching in Para. by Sérgio CarvalhoMuseu do Amanhã

According to the Brazilian Constitution, children under 16 are prohibited from working, except as apprentices - but only from the age of 14. However, official data shows that, until 2014 , in a group of children 5-13 years old - 554,000 committed child labor. Of these, 70 thousand were between 5 and 9 years old and 484 thousand, were between 10 and 13 years of age. In the image, boy working in cattle in Para (photo: Sergio Carvalho).

Child carrying sugar cane at Ceará by Sérgio CarvalhoMuseu do Amanhã

Where are these children? They are merged with the urban landscape - around traffic lights, factories, warehouses - or employed in rural areas, agricultural, mining, charcoal, or even housework. In the photo, you can see a child carrying a sugar cane in Ceará (photo : Sergio Carvalho).

Child works near a road at Brazil by Sérgio CarvalhoMuseu do Amanhã

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), 168 million children worldwide commit child labor. Almost 85 million perform dangerous activities. Agriculture is an area in which most children and adolescents find employment irregularly. In the picture, a boy is plugging holes in federal highway in Piaui, Brazil ( photo : Sergio Carvalho).

Children playing with kites at Piauí by Sérgio CarvalhoMuseu do Amanhã


Credits: Story

Museum of Tomorrow, 2016
Curator: Luiz Alberto Oliveira
Content Director : Alfredo Tolmasquin
Exhibition Manager and Tomorrow Observatory: Leonardo Menezes
Editor: Emanuel Alencar
Content Writer: Eduardo Carvalho
Trainee: Thais Cerqueira
Photos: Sérgio Carvalho

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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