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UNICEF calls on Paraguay to abolish domestic child labor

ASUNCION, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Paraguay on Wednesday called for the abolition of "criadazgo," the practice of putting children in unpaid domestic labor.

UNICEF expressed "its deep regret" over the death of a 14-year-old girl who carried out domestic tasks in a house in the eastern department of Caaguazu.

According to the teen's adoptive parents, the father, a retired soldier, had hit her repeatedly with a tree branch. The girl was so badly beaten that she died Thursday in a care center.

"This sad event joins others that happened previously in the country where, despite efforts from state organizations and civil society, the practice of criadazgo continues," UNICEF said in a press release issued in the country's capital of Asuncion.

This practice puts minors in "conditions that prevent them from developing fully and prevents them from enjoying their childhood," warned the humanitarian agency.

The country's law prohibits domestic child labor, UNICEF noted.

According to an official survey, almost 47,000 children and teenagers were employed in criadazgo in Paraguay in 2011. This represented 2.5 percent of the country's total child population.

During criadazgo, children and teenagers are subjected to long working days, and for that reason, they leave their studies and therefore are unable to find better jobs in the future, which prevents them from overcoming poverty, according to UNICEF.

Furthermore, many of them also get involved in criminal networks that specifically look for children and teenagers in the most rural communities. These networks promise the young people well-paid jobs. However, the children end up being used for labor and sexual exploitation, far from their families and the authorities' control, added the UN agency.

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