Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Russia

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 10 September 2009
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Russia, 10 September 2009, available at: [accessed 28 May 2016]
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 Labor
Population, children, 5-14 years:
Working children, 5-14 years (%):
Working boys, 5-14 years (%):
Working girls, 5-14 years (%):
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:16
Compulsory education age:15
Free public education:Yes
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2006:96.0
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2006:90.9
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%):
Survival rate to grade 5 (%):
ILO Convention 138:5/3/1979
ILO Convention 182:3/25/2003
ILO-IPEC participating country:Associated

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In Russia, large numbers of children are found working in the streets of major cities, where they are engaged in begging and work in the informal economy. This includes work in retail services, street vending, washing or repairing cars, shining shoes, making deliveries, carrying heavy loads, cleaning, and collecting trash. In rural areas, children primarily work in agriculture. Children from the rural areas and provincial towns also migrate or are trafficked to work in urban areas or other regions of the country. Children from neighboring countries, as well as Russian children, are engaged in exploitive work in the country.

Working street children may be involved in illegal activities such as prostitution, pornography, selling drugs, or selling stolen goods. Homeless and orphaned children are particularly vulnerable to exploitation or becoming engaged in criminal activities. Commercial sexual exploitation of children, especially in the large cities, remains a concern. Moscow and St. Petersburg are hubs of child trafficking and child commercial sexual exploitation. Children are trafficked to these cities internally, and from Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan, and forced into begging or prostitution. Both girls and boys are trafficked for prostitution, child sex tourism, and pornography. St. Petersburg and the northwestern border areas of Russia are popular destinations for sex tourists from wealthier Western European nations, particularly neighboring Scandinavian countries. Russia is a major producer and distributor of child pornography on the Internet.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age of employment at 16 years, with some exceptions. Children who have either completed their basic general education or have left the general educational system may work at age 15. With parental consent, children at least 14 years may perform light work that is not harmful to their health or education, and children younger than 14 may participate in the creation and/or performance of art works that are not harmful to their health and moral development. The working time for employees younger than 16 years should not exceed 24 hours per week, or exceed 36 hours per week for employees between 16 and 18 years. Employers may not request overtime from workers under age 18. Workers younger than 16 years may not work longer than 5 hours per shift, and for workers between 16 and 18 years, a shift may not exceed 7 hours. Children under 18 years are prohibited from engaging in night work, unhealthy or dangerous work, underground work, or work that may be harmful to their moral development. Employers must provide medical screenings to any prospective employees younger than 18 years. Once hired, these employees must also pass annual medical surveys provided at the expense of the employer.

Forced labor is prohibited by law. Slave labor of a known minor is punishable by imprisonment from 3-10 years; if by an organized group or causing damage to the victim's health, the term is 8-15 years. Acts directed towards organizing prostitution that involve minors are punishable by imprisonment of up to 6 years with no minimum sentence. If the minor is under 14 years, the term of imprisonment is 3 to 10 years. Involving a minor in prostitution, or compelling a minor to continue to engage in prostitution is punishable by 3 to 8 years of imprisonment. In addition, the creation and circulation of pornography that knowingly depicts minors is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 6 years. The term of imprisonment is 3 to 8 years if the minor is under

14. Trafficking of a known minor is punishable by a sentence of 3 to 10 years of imprisonment if committed by a single individual. The sentence for an organized group that engages in any form of trafficking is 8 to 15 years. In December 2008, President Medvedev signed into law an amendment to the criminal code that eliminated the element of "exploitation" from the statutory definition of trafficking.

The minimum age for both voluntary and compulsory military recruitment is 18 years. However, the law on Military Obligations and Military Service provides for state-run military schools for boys as young as 7, where students aged 16 and older are considered to be on military service that counts toward conscription requirements. In September 2008, the Government of Russia ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child Optional Protocol on Prohibiting the Involvement and Recruitment of Children in Armed Conflicts.

The Federal Labor and Employment Service (FLES) is responsible for monitoring child labor violations. The Public Security Police Service is authorized to investigate sex crimes against children, including prostitution and pornography. Research has not identified statistics on enforcement and prosecution by these agencies in 2008. Russia does not track the number of trafficking prosecutions, convictions, and sentences.

According to USDOS, the Government of Russia took modest steps toward better protection of children's labor rights, but lacked a national strategy to this end. Russia has not adopted specific measures in its Labor Code to eliminate child labor violations. USDOS reported that Russian prosecutors believe the child labor problem is getting worse. According to USDOS, the Government did not enforce child labor laws effectively. CEACR has repeatedly expressed concern at the increasing number of street children in Russia, who are vulnerable to exploitation. CEACR has called upon the Russian government to pursue, "as a matter of urgency," measures to ensure that those who traffic children for labor or sexual exploitation are prosecuted.

There have been reports that Government officials have been complicit in trafficking. According to USDOS, in 2008 the Ministry of Internal Affairs arrested and prosecuted such individuals when their actions were discovered.

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

In July 2008, the Government of Russia established a Fund for Children's Support, to which approximately USD 190 million was allocated by the end of 2008. Among other goals, the Fund is intended to support social programs to assist orphans and to provide for the social rehabilitation of disadvantaged children, including homeless children. Regional ombudsmen protect children's rights in 23 of Russia's 87 provinces. Since 2006, appointments to these offices were made by regional legislatures, which expanded their authority and gave them parliamentary status.

In 2008, the ILO completed the third phase of a project providing technical assistance to the city of St. Petersburg, which sought to develop time-bound measures to combat the worst forms of child labor, and scale up existing interventions. The Government of Finland is supporting this project (USD 450,000), as well as the first phase of a similar project covering the Leningrad Region (USD 689,000). Both projects target working street children. The St. Petersburg Government Commission on Issues of Minors and Protection of Their Rights has a working group that meets regularly to address trafficking and child sexual exploitation, and has established shelters for minors across the city. UNICEF is working with the Government to assist children living and working in the streets. In 2007 and 2008, the City of Moscow and various federal agencies cooperated with an IOM-implemented project to provide information and consultation services to trafficking victims, including the placement of specialists to advise minors under the auspices of the Ministry of Interior. This project was jointly funded by the European Commission, USDOS and the Government of Switzerland.

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