Thousands of people still toil in forced labor in Brazil, despite government attempts to curtail the practice, the International Labour Organization said in a new report.
Since 1995, more than 40,000 people have been rescued from forced labor, citing field reports from the poor, rural areas in the country's northeast and interviews with 121 people who were released between 2006 to 2007.
The workers were found to be mostly black males who grew up in poverty, began working as children and had little formal education, said the ILO report.
Many of them were working in near slave-like conditions without contracts and did not receive any salary, doing long hours of manual labor without the possibility of leaving their remote work sites, the report said.
Those who were paid were forced to use their pitiful wages to buy food and pay for lodging, often in tents or huts without running water or sanitation facilities. Some were even required to pay for their work tools.
Many of the men rescued ended up back in similarly difficult working conditions, the report noted.
Employers were said to be mainly white men from the affluent southeast of Brazil, Latin America's largest economy.