Last Updated: Monday, 15 September 2014, 14:12 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Mali

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 27 August 2008
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Mali, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa47e35.html [accessed 16 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor2155
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2005:65.8
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2005:66.6
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2005:64.9
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%), 2005:
     – Agriculture58.2
     – Manufacturing1.9
     – Services39.5
     – Other0.4
Minimum age for work:14
Compulsory education age:12*
Free public education:Yes**
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:77
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:59
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2005:44.8
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2004:87
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes
* According to the law, children have the right to 9 years of school
** Must pay for miscellaneous school expenses

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

The majority of economically active children in Mali work in the agricultural sector.2156 Children, including street children, work within informal urban sectors in such activities as begging, portering, and car window washing.2157 Children work in hazardous conditions in garages, forges, workshops, and gold mines, which include working underground and exposure to chemicals such as mercury.2158 The practice of sending boys to Koranic teachers to receive education is a tradition in various countries, including Mali.2159 While some boys receive lessons, many are forced by their teachers to beg and surrender the money that they have earned.2160 A UNICEF study in Mopti reported that children spend more time begging or working in fields than learning from their teachers.2161 Children, especially girls, work as domestic servants; which a government study found increased the risk of sexual exploitation.2162 There are also reports of commercial sexual exploitation of children, especially girls in hotels, restaurants, and brothels.2163

Mali is an origin, transit, and destination country for children trafficked for forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation, though most trafficking is internal. Children have been trafficked internally to the central regions to work in rice fields.2164 Boys have been trafficked to work in agriculture, gold mining, and begging.2165 Boys have also been trafficked to Senegal for the purposes of forced begging.2166 Children, especially girls, are trafficked to Guinea to work as domestic workers.2167 Children are trafficked to Côte d'Ivoire to work as domestic servants, in mines, and on plantations; especially on coffee, cotton, and cocoa farms.2168 Children are trafficked from Burkina Faso to Mali for the purposes of mining and domestic servitude.2169 Children are also trafficked from Benin for the purpose of domestic service, as well as forced labor in mines, on plantations, and as street hawkers.2170 There are likewise reports of children being trafficked through Mali on their way to Europe.2171 For example, Ivorian boys have been trafficked to Mali with the lure of European soccer jobs.2172

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for employment and apprenticeship is 14 years.2173 The law allows children 12 to 14 years to be employed in light domestic or seasonal work, such as on plantations, with the express authorization of their parents or guardians if they work in the same establishment as their parents or guardians. However, these children may not be employed for more than 4.5 hours per day or 2 hours per day if they are in school, and in all cases these children are prohibited from working on Sundays or holidays.2174 Children under 18 years are not allowed to engage in work that threatens their safety or morals, exceeds 8 hours per day or their physical capacity, or occurs at night.2175

The law prohibits forced or obligatory labor.2176 It also makes child trafficking punishable by 5 to 20 years of imprisonment.2177 The Government requires that Malian children under 18 years carry travel documents in an effort to slow cross-border trafficking.2178 The law establishes penalties for sexual exploitation, abuse and carnal knowledge of any person under the age of 15.2179 The minimum age for both voluntary recruitment and military conscription is 18 years.2180

Inspectors from the Ministry of Employment and Civil Service conduct surprise and complaint-based inspections in the formal sector, but according to USDOS, lack of resources limit the frequency and effectiveness of monitoring and enforcement of child labor laws.2181 In the past year, five cases that were investigated were referred to the courts, four of which involved charges of commercial sexual exploitation of children.2182 The Ministry for the Promotion of Women, Children, and Family is the lead ministry combating trafficking.2183 Security forces investigated and arrested several traffickers, but as of this report, no prosecutions were reported as completed.2184

Mali was 1 of 24 countries to adopt the Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons and the Joint Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, in West and Central African Regions.2185 As part of the Multilateral Cooperation Agreement, the governments agreed to use the child trafficking monitoring system developed by the USDOL-funded ILO-IPEC LUTRENA project; assist each other in the investigation, arrest and prosecution of trafficking offenders; and protect, rehabilitate, and reintegrate trafficking victims.2186

Current Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

In 2007, the Government of Mali finalized and signed the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), which defines concrete outcomes for the United Nations System agencies in Mali for the period of 2008 through 2012. The framework specifically targets measures at children who are victims of trafficking.2187 The Ministry for the Promotion of Women, Children, and Family working with IPEC undertook awareness raising activities, such as the week-long National Campaign Against Child Labor.2188 Labor inspectors also received training on preventing child labor abuses.2189

The Ministry for the Promotion of Women, Children, and Family and the Ministry of Labor and Civil Service cooperated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Territorial Administration to develop a program of identification, rehabilitation, education of the population, and strengthening of the legal system's stance on the trafficking of minors.2190 The Government also provides temporary shelter and protection to trafficking victims at welcome centers in several cities and helps child trafficking victims return to their families.2191 Malian officials also worked with government authorities from Senegal and Guinea-Bissau to repatriate trafficked children.2192

Mali is participating in a USD 3.5 million ILO-IPEC Timebound Preparation project, funded by USDOL that aims to withdraw 3,000 children and prevent 6,000 children from exploitive work in agriculture, mining, the informal urban sector, domestic service, and commercial sexual exploitation.2193

In 2007, Mali also participated in the Combating Trafficking in Children for Labor Exploitation in West and Central Africa, Phases 1 & 2 (LUTRENA) regional project, funded by USDOL at USD 9.28 million and implemented by ILO-IPEC, to combat the trafficking of children for exploitive labor. During Phase II, from July 2001 to December 2007 (when the project ended) the project withdrew 4,240 children and prevented 7,213 children from trafficking in the region.2194 The Government also participated in a USDOL-funded Education Initiative project implemented by CARE to increase access to basic quality education for children at risk of being trafficked in Mali. This project also ended in December and prevented 6,044 children from trafficking and exploitive child labor.2195 The Government of Mali also participated in the Community Based Innovations to Reduce Child Labor through Education (CIRCLE) global project funded by USDOL at 8.1 million and USAID at USD 500,000 and implemented by Winrock International and various community-based organizations.2196

The Government of Mali likewise participated in a USAID project that is educating families in five villages on the methods used by child traffickers.2197 Mali cooperated on a French-funded, USD 3.1 million, regional ILO-IPEC project that worked on eliminating child labor through 2007. Additionally, Mali continues to participate in a USD 4.9 million French-funded, regional ILO-IPEC project that runs until December 31, 2009.2198 Both of these projects include measures aimed at improving vocational training and apprenticeships as well as capacity building.2199


2155 For statistical data not cited here, see the Data Sources and Definitions section. For data on ratifications and ILO-IPEC membership, see the Executive Summary. For minimum age for admission to work, age to which education is compulsory, and free public education, see Government of Mali, Decret no. 96-178/P-RM portant Application de Diverses Dispositions de la Loi no 92-20 portant Code du travail (June 13, 1996), article 187; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/WEBTEXT/44399/65027/F96MLI01.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, "Mali," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2007, Washington, DC, March 11, 2008, section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100492.htm. See also Government of Mali, Loi no 02-062/P-RM portant Code de protection de l'enfant, (June 5, 2002), article 20; available from http://www.justicemali.org/doc107.htm. See also World Bank Group, Evaluation of the World Bank Assistance to Primary Education in Mali, Washington D.C., 2007.

2156 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, March 1, 2007, ILO-IPEC, Support for the Preparation of the Mali Time-Bound Programme, Project Document, Geneva, September 1, 2006, 6. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Mali," section 6d.

2157 FAFO, Identification of Street Children: Characteristics of Street Children in Bamako and Accra, FAFO Report 474, Norway, 2005, 63; available from http://www.fafo.no/pub/rapp/474/474.pdf.

2158 ILO-IPEC, MALI TBP Project Document, 6-7. See also ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Elimination of Child Labor in Mining in West Africa, Project Document, Geneva, September 30, 2005, 36.

2159 Peter Easton et al., Research Studies Series no. 8, International Working Group on Nonformal Education of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa, May 1997; available from http://www.adeanet.org/wgnfe/publications/abel/abel2.html. See also Peter Easton, "Education and Koranic Literacy in West Africa," IK Notes no. 11 (August 1999), 1, 3; available from http://www.worldbank.org/afr/ik/iknt11.pdf.

2160 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Mali," section 5. See also Integrated Regional Information Network, "MALI: Urbanisation fuelling begging on streets of capital", IRINnews.org, [online], January 22, 2008; available from http://www.irinnews.org/PrintReport.aspx?ReportId=76375.

2161 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Mali," section 5. See also ILO-IPEC, MALI TBP Project Document, 6-7.

2162 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Mali," section 5. See also ILO-IPEC, MALI TBP Project Document, 6.

2163 ILO-IPEC, MALI TBP Project Document, 8. ECPAT International CSEC Database, Mali; accessed December 2, 2007; available from http://www.ecpat.net.

2164 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Mali."

2165 U.S. Department of State, "Mali (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82806.htm.

2166 U.S. Department of State, "Senegal," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2007, Washington, DC, March 11, 2008; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100501.htm.

2167 Human Rights Watch, Bottom of the Ladder: Exploitation and Abuse of Girl Domestic Workers in Guinea, Volume 19, No.8 (A), New York, June, 2007, 36-38; available from http://hrw.org/reports/2007/guinea0607/guinea0607web.pdf.

2168 ILO-IPEC LUTRENA, La Traite des Enfants Aux Fins D'Exploitation De Leur Travail Dans Les Mines d'Or D'Issia Cote D'Ivoire, Research Report, Cote D'Ivoire, 2005, 24, 62 and 64. See also U.S. Embassy – Bamako, reporting, December 03, 2007, para 14. See also U.S. Department of State, "Cote d'Ivoire (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report-2007, Washington, DC, June 12 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82805.htm.

2169 Brad Kress, Burkina Faso: Testing the Tradition of Circular Migration, Migration Policy Institute, May, 2006; available from http://www.migrationinformation.org/Profiles/print.cfm?ID=399.

2170 U.S. Department of State, "Benin (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82805.htm.

2171 U.S. Embassy – Bamako, reporting, December 03, 2007, para 14.

2172 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Cote d'Ivoire."

2173 Government of Mali, Loi no 92-020 portant Code du Travail, (September 23, 1992), article 187. ; available from http://www.assemblee-nationale.insti.ml/codesetlois/18-travail.pdf.

2174 Ibid., articles D.189-35 & D.189-36.

2175 Ibid., articles D.189-14, D.189-15, and D.189-16.

2176 Ibid., article 6.

2177 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Mali," section 5. See also Government of Mali, Loi no 61-99 AN-RM du aout 1961, (August 3, 1961), article 189; available from http://www.assemblee-nationale.insti.ml/codesetlois/11-codepenal.pdf.

2178 Government of Mali, Déterminant les spécifications techniques du titre de voyage tenant lieu d'autorisation de sortie pour les enfants âgés de zéro à dix-huit ans, (February 20, 2002). See also Integrated Regional Information Network, "Mali: Children to Carry Mandatory Travel Documents", IRINnews.org, [online], August 10, 2001; available from http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=10452&SelectRegion=West_Africa&SelectCountry.

2179 Government of Mali, Code pénal, article 180 and 182.

2180 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Mali," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=784.

2181 U.S. Department of State, "Mali," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2006, Washington, DC, March 6, 2007, section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78745.htm. See also U.S. Embassy – Bamako, reporting, December 03, 2007, para 4.

2182 U.S. Embassy – Bamako, reporting, December 03, 2007, para 4.

2183 U.S. Embassy – Bamako, reporting, February 28, 2007, para 5b.

2184 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Mali," section 5. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Mali."

2185 Catholic Relief Services official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, October 2, 2006. See also ILO-IPEC, Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa (LUTRENA), Technical Progress Report, Washington, DC, September 1, 2006, 2.

2186 ECOWAS and ECCAS, Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, in West and Central Africa, Abuja, July 7, 2006. See also ILO-IPEC, LUTRENA, September 2006 Technical Progress Report, 10-11.

2187 Government of Mali and United Nations, Plan cadre des Nations Unies pour l'Aide au Développement 2008-2012.

2188 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Mali," section 5. See also ILO-IPEC, Support for the Preparation of the Mali Time-Bound Programme, Technical Progress Report, Geneva, September 30, 2007, 16.

2189 U.S. Embassy – Bamako, reporting, December 03, 2007, para 4.

2190 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Mali," section 5.

2191 Ibid. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Mali."

2192 U.S. Embassy – Dakar, reporting, March 04, 2008, para 28h.

2193 ILO-IPEC, MALI TBP Project Document, cover page and 46.

2194 ILO-IPEC, Amendment to Project Document "Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa", Project Document Amendment Geneva, September 3, 2004. See also ILO-IPEC, Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa (LUTRENA), Technical Progress Report, Geneva, September 1, 2007, 1-3. See also ILO-IPEC official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, December 13, 2007. See also ILO-IPEC Geneva official, LUTRENA Project Table III.C. Final Report March 2008 E-mail communication to USDOL official, March 24, 2008. 2195 U.S. Department of Labor International Child Labor Program, A Better Future for Mali's Children: Combating Child Trafficking through Education, project document, 2003. 2196 USDOL/ILAB, Technical Cooperation Project Summary: Community-Based Innovations to Reduce Child Labor through Education I and II (CIRCLE I and II). See also Winrock International, Project Fact Sheet: Reducing Child Labor through Education (CIRCLE 1), [online] [cited October 13, 2006]; available from http://www.winrock.org/fact/facts.asp?CC=5411&bu=. See also Winrock International, Project Fact Sheet: Reducing Child Labor through Education (CIRCLE 2), [online] [cited December 14, 2007]; available from http://www.winrock.org/fact/facts.asp?CC=5519&bu=. 2197 U.S. Embassy – Bamako, reporting, December 03, 2007, para 8. 2198 ILO-IPEC official, E-mail communication, December 13, 2007. See also ILO-IPEC official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, February 27, 2008. 2199 ILO-IPEC official, E-mail communication, February 27, 2008.

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