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They work as servants, a practice that many organizations denounce as child slavery, in exchange for food and education. In some cases, they suffer violence. This GlobalVoices abstract of a longer article by Kurtural magazine portrays this drama through the story of Tina Alvarenga, former criadita and current spokesman for the Paraguay Interaction of Indigenous Women. Alvarenga denounces the triple discrimination —for being poor, indigenous and female— she underwent.
Tina Alvarenga lived eight years in a house where she was forbidden to eat with the household family. Nearly a college graduate, she returned years later and listened to the mistress talk about her with pride. But Alvarenga was never treated like a daughter in that house. The deal is simple: a large family with little money hands over their underage son or daughter to another more wealthy family, in exchange for the child receiving food, education, and a roof over their head.
What is not said is that the boy or girl will have endless days of domestic work, work that is never paid, and may suffer abuse or mistreatment, all under a contract that cannot be annulled. After finishing her undergraduate studies, Alvarenga worked for years for an organization that defends the rights of boys and girls.
She tried to call things as they are, because the feeling of gratitude instilled in criaditas is, in general, a guarantee of silence. Victims of criadazgo If the girl is mistreated, her family members will not know of it until many years afterwards. Sometimes, they never find out. But in January of , an event put a face to this hidden phenomenon that happens within the houses of Paraguay.
She was 14 years old. It was the last punishment the teenager ever received. A few days later, the media disseminated news of the incident.