Brazil is characterised by an inequality gap between rich and poor. Poverty is particularly widespread among rural populations and in city slums. The country is struggling with an ineffective education system. Access to clean water, food, and appropriate healthcare is not available for the entire population. Children and young people tend to suffer the most. Childhood malnutrition and neglect are rendering an integral development impossible.
By advocating the rights of children, we make an important contribution to combating poverty. Our protection and prevention programmes seek to reduce violence in families and communities including sexual violence and exploitation. Furthermore, we support demand-driven rural community building educational projects.
- Many children attend school irregularly.
Extreme inequality is an enormous problem in Brazil. A small, rich upper class stands in stark contrast to a numerically far superior large lower class, mostly living in abject poverty. Merely one-tenth of the population owns half of Brazil's national wealth. The poorest segment of society doesn't even own one-hundredth of the country’s wealth.
In a bid to escape poverty, many Brazilians move from the countryside to the cities. Migration has been causing urban slums – known as favelas – to grow even further. Life in the favelas is marked by violence, unemployment, malnutrition, child labour, prostitution, and drug abuse. Many families have no regular income and depend on menial jobs to earn enough to pay for the absolute bare necessities of daily life.
In spite of compulsory education in Brazil many children don't attend school or only on an irregular basis. Reasons abound why children drop out of school. They may have to look after their siblings at home or contribute to the family's income. Additionally, schools are facing challenges such as decrepit buildings and poorly trained teachers. Many public secondary schools and universities have a better reputation than private ones. Yet, only a limited number of public school slots are available and students have to meet high academic requirements during the selection process.
The sexual exploitation of children forced into prostitution is a growing problem. Often, mothers, who have already turned to prostitution because they lack alternatives, passing on a sad tradition. Prostitution boosts HIV/AIDS infection rates resulting in a growing number of AIDS orphans and HIV-infected children. In Brazil, people infected with HIV are often met with open hostility.
The situation of children with special needs is particularly difficult in Brazil. Schools for children with learning difficulties are non-existent. Many parents are ashamed of their children, who are hidden away and thus robbed of any opportunities to receive the support that they need to participate in daily life.