President Jair Bolsonaro who defends child labor

A live broadcast by Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro on July 4 sparked an online debate about child labor on the Brazilian internet. Bolsonaro does live broadcasts through his social media channels every Thursday evening since he took office in January 2019. This time, the president mentioned that when he was around 9 or 10 years old, he used to grind corn and crop bananas in his father’s farm, emphasizing the fact that it “didn’t do him any harm.” He also narrated how he learned to drive tractors and use shotguns early in his life and wrapped up by declaring that the only reason that he wouldn’t introduce projects decriminalizing child labor was “because he would be massacred for it.” Brazilian law dictates that any form of labor is forbidden to children below the age of 13. By 14, children are allowed to work as apprentices with restrictions to night shifts and hazardous occupations. Only teenagers above the age of 16 are qualified to sign contracts. Although the president affirmed he wasn’t planning to propose changes to those laws anytime soon, child labor nonetheless became a topic of discussion on Brazilian social media over the past week following his remarks. Federal judge Marcelo Bretas, who works on the Car Wash operation in Rio de Janeiro, and is a declared Bolsonaro supporter, recounted his own experience of working as a child on a reply to a thread started by the president’s son, federal deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro:

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