The Complexity of Child Labor in Households in San Cristóbal and Tapachula

*In both San Cristóbal de Las Casas and Tapachula, he said, there is a naturalization of the type of actors who order, clean, and provide for the welfare of others. Among these workers are IDPs from rural areas with few opportunities for training or with the presence of domestic and community violence.


Sarai Miranda Juarez, researcher at the Gender Studies Academic Group of El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR), presented her book “Pay the player. Intersectoral violence against child and adolescent domestic workers in Chiapas”to talk about the validity of child and adolescent labor practices related to boys, girls and adolescents (NNA) from rural backgrounds joining local and international labor markets.

In the book, Miranda Juarez describes the complexity of child and adolescent labor in third party homes and the violence they are subjected to in the exercise of their work, located in two urban contexts in Chiapas: San Cristóbal de Las Casas and Tapachula.

Due to their commercial characteristics, they are cities linked to the global economy: in the case of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, due to their tourist destination aimed at a national and international public. On the other hand, Tapachula, as it is the economic hub for companies growing coffee and other agro-industrial products that are exported and valued in dollars.

You will find a discussion of the validity of the practice of child and adolescent labor related to children and adolescents of rural origin who join local and international labor markets marked by the historical inertia of colonization and the validity of the logic of social interaction in the principles of action of hierarchy. Image: Courtesy.

In both contexts, the researcher points out that the currency is in circulation and has a huge wealth of natural resources. However, this is only one side of the coin. Behind the touristic and economic experiences associated with the exoticization of indigenous peoples and the millionaire profits of agribusiness, social inequalities coexist.

These inequalities lead the poorest households to mobilize the majority of their members to the labor market: including children and adolescents. Similarly, they encourage adolescents to seek strategies to cope with material deprivation and the lack of opportunities for school and work in their communities of origin.

In addition, the specialist points out that Chiapas is one of the states with the highest levels of poverty at the national level. According to data from the National Council for Social Development Policy Evaluation (CONEVAL), 83.8% of the population aged 0 to 17 lives in some level of poverty; of the 18 poorest municipalities in the country: five of them are in the area that tops the list of states with the lowest monthly income per person.

This particularly affects children and adolescents, who see limited access to basic rights such as food, health and education. At the same time, poverty and marginalization affecting childhood and adolescence compromise the current and future development of new generationsexcludes them from the school system, thereby reducing their chances of joining decent and quality jobs.

Miranda Juarez points out that the particularity of the subject is its border location, as it becomes the passage and destination of thousands of Central American, Haitian and African children who seek to escape the context of extreme violence and material scarcity that push them to migrate.

Today, children and adolescents around the world face countless problems such as poverty, inequality, violence and discrimination. Image: Courtesy

In this context, the specialist proposed to continue researching how violence affects according to social class, gender, ethnicity, age and migration background, as well as the relationships that are configured between these categories.

Thus, the violence perpetrated violates in various ways the rights of NNAs enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which seek to create an environment free from exploitation, abuse and violence.

Therefore, research on violence against women and girls still faces significant avenues to explore, for example, the intersection between gender and other social factors, as well as analysis based on local approaches “that allow for the inclusion of the role of structural factors at regional level’.

Hence the researcher’s interest in investigating the practice of domestic child labor in third country homes in two urban contexts with similarities and differences within the same state entity.

Violence has various manifestations that range from the bloodiest events, such as taking lives, murders and femicides, to expressions that can go unnoticed in a certain way, which, because of their subtlety, are difficult to identify, but have devastating effects on life.
common to people. Image: Courtesy.

In the city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, he stated that it is easy to gain the trust of the social actors involved, especially the employers. They opened the doors of their homes and allowed him to observe their way of life and did not hesitate to express their perceptions, prejudices and stereotypes towards the children doing housework in their homes.

Nor did they show any problem in recognizing their interest and preference for recruiting girls and boys over women and adults to perform domestic activities. This is an example of the naturalization of this social practiceIt is, above all, a manifestation of the ongoing colonization translated into racism and discrimination faced by the indigenous people of this city.

Just to mention a few instances, Miranda Juarez said that when she knocked on a door where there was a girl wanted sign and the owner of the house was present, she asked if she could provide information about the sign, to which the interviewee replied, “ But that’s not a job for such a pretty girl, ehhhh?”.

Another time, at the end of the interview, the employer said: “Now I understand, it seemed strange to me that you come to ask for reports, usually those who come are not like you.” This, more than individual characteristics, speaks to the social face of domestic and care work , related to the impoverished and racialized local people.

Thus, for the employers interviewed in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, domestic work and care work are associated with the ugly, the dark, the poor, and in many cases with the yet to be educated and civilized, so if it is an NNA is a better option.

Today, in the context of the colonial legacy, as is the case in Mexico, the abuse of children and adolescents continues; In order to “improve” children considered inferior, isolation is practiced not only by the state, but also by other actors and at micro-social levels, for example in homes. Image: Courtesy

In this circumstance, the author had the opportunity to observe first-hand the interactions between employers and employers and NNA domestic workers, the treatment and mistreatment they received, including the forms of confinement and immobility they were subjected to.

To Tapachula the panorama was different, walks through the city and observations in the markets were marked by the distrust of the inhabitants. During a visit to the San Juan market, he requested a meeting with the tenant association so he could be in the facilities without mistrust issues.

During the meeting, one of the tenants expressed that they should be careful with the investigator, “there are tattoos like foreigners who go around stealing.” In Tapachula, fieldwork was marked by the daily criminalization of migrants.

However, the privileges of race and social class facilitated conversations with employees and employers, even respecting preferential treatment in government and consular offices. In both contexts, he notes the persistent ethnicization and racialization of domestic labor in contrast to the abundance of whiteness-dominated lifestyles and full-time servitude to meet the needs of the privileged social classes.

The presence of native, migrant and poor children and adolescents is the ideal correlate for the association of these hierarchical power relations. Interviews with NNAs turned out to be more complicated than it initially appeared.

The researcher pointed out that this research experience reveals the power relations between the actors involved in the exchange of domestic services and care services, those who provide the work -a NNA- and those who receive it: adults and adults who call themselves godmothers, aunts, ladies, patrons.

Girls, boys and adolescents are social actors present at the border and mobilize day after day in search of work and better living conditions, alone or with their families. Image: Courtesy.

These participants are willing to provide lodging, food, and sometimes a salary so that the daily needs of cleaning, cooking, caring for girls, boys, and the elderly, as well as everything related to the maintenance of the home and those, are met. who live there, they inhabit.

Although there is concern in the Mexican state to comply with the agreements acceded to the International Labor Organization (ILO) to eliminate child labor, these types of jobs, which take place in the private sphere and behind closed doors, are not the focus of public policy, the researcher explained.

Likewise, he added that the State Commission for the Elimination of Child Labor of Chiapas meets twice a year with the responsible authorities and presents public policies to address the problem of child labor. but always focused on social cleansing policies in the main tourist cities.

ok its racist, classist and adulterous stance It generates that it affects only those boys and girls involved in the itinerant trade and leaves those who work in mines, intensive crops and domestic workers in third party homes completely unprotected.

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