Emicida and Drik rap against child labour

Updated: Mar 26, 2021

Emicida, Drik Barbosa
Rappers Emicida and Drik Barbosa. PHOTO: Image Collab

Rap music is being used to raise awareness about the problem of child labour in Brazil as part of a national campaign to address officials’ fears that the coronavirus will push more youngsters into exploitative work. The campaign is spearheaded by famous rappers Emicida, 34 years old, and Drik Barbosa, 28 years old, who have written a song called ‘Sementes’ (Seeds) released on 9 June and are doing a weekly podcast with 12 social media videos about child slavery.

The campaign, commissioned in partnership between Brazilian state bodies including the countries’ Labour Prosecutor's Office and the United Nation's International Labour Organisation, aims to curb child labour in Brazil. The song Sementes was expected to be released a week earlier, but was delayed by the rappers who wanted to show solidarity with protesters in the United States and Brazil taking to the streets to denounce racism and police brutality against black people.

There are already an estimated 152 million children in child labour around the world and with the arrival of COVID-19, children are now at an even greater risk of facing child labour circumstances even more difficult with longer working hours. The campaign slogan is ‘Covid-19: now more than ever, protect children and adolescents from child labour’. Approximately 72 million of child labour cases worldwide are related to hazardous work, according to the International Labour Organisation. In 2019 a Brazilian government hotline for human rights violations received about 86 000 reports relating to child abuse which is more than half of the total calls received with 4 245 of the cases related to child labour.

"The COVID-19 pandemic pushes a series of families to the margins of society. Under pressure, these families have to put children in an inhumane situation. The social gaps that we have produced since before the pandemic are proving to be much more deadly than the pandemic itself," says Emicida. Brazilian labour authorities have been known to resort to popular culture to raise awareness about labour violations. In recent years, they have financed documentaries, feature films and even cartoons on slavery, child labor and human trafficking. Emicida frequently references to police brutality and racism in his songs.

View the Sementes music video here:

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