ITALY: Boy for Hire

Most days of the year the dusty market place in Benevento, 30 miles northeast of Naples, is crowded with hawkers vending cloth and shoes and fortunes. But on two days of the year (Aug. 15 and Sept. 8), the main commodity in Benevento's market is children.

From time immemorial it has been the custom, on those days, for the poor people of Benevento to hire out their sons, twelve years and up, to farmers seeking cheap labor. The children are brought to the Piazza del Duomo, where they wait while their parents bargain. The farmers take a look at the...

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