Last Updated: Friday, 17 October 2014, 15:58 GMT

2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - El Salvador

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 31 August 2007
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - El Salvador, 31 August 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7493145.html [accessed 20 October 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 Labor
Percent of children 5-14 estimated as working in 2003:10.2%1492
Minimum age for admission to work:141493
Age to which education is compulsory:151494
Free public education:Yes*1495
Gross primary enrollment rate in 2004:114%1496
Net primary enrollment rate in 2004:92%1497
Percent of children 5-14 attending school in 2003:80.4%1498
As of 2003 percentage of primary school entrants likely to reach grade 5:73%1499
Ratified Convention 138:1/23/19961500
Ratified Convention 182:10/12/20001501
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes1502
* Must pay for school supplies and related items.

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2003 in El Salvador, the majority of working children were found in the agricultural sector (51.2 percent), followed by services (35.3 percent), manufacturing (12.4 percent), and other sectors (1.1 percent).1503 Most working children work in family-operated businesses without pay.1504 Working is more common for children in rural areas than in urban areas, and among boys than among girls.1505 Children work in sugar cane harvesting, fishing, and garbage scavenging.1506 Some children work long hours as domestic servants in third-party homes.1507

Commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children, especially girls, continues to be a problem.1508 El Salvador is reported to be a transit point for girls trafficked to such places as Mexico, the United States, and neighboring Central American countries.1509 Some children are also trafficked internally from rural areas to urban areas, port cities, and border regions for commercial sexual exploitation.1510 At-risk groups include girls, rural and poor children, uneducated adolescents, adolescent mothers and underage foreign females.1511

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years.1512 Children 12 to 14 can be authorized to perform light work, as long as it does not harm their development or interfere with their education. There are also exceptions for artistic representations.1513 Children under 16 years are prohibited from working more than 6 hours per day or more than 34 hours per week, regardless of the type of work. Children under 18 are prohibited from working at night.1514

Forced labor is prohibited, except in cases specified by the law.1515 With parental consent, children between 16 and 18 years may volunteer for military service.1516 The law prohibits trafficking in persons.1517 Criminal penalties for trafficking range from 4 to 8 years of imprisonment, and increase by one-third if the victim is under 18 years.1518 The law provides for penalties of 8 to 12 years of imprisonment for the inducement, facilitation, or promotion of prostitution of a person younger than 18, and penalties of 6 to 12 years of imprisonment for the production or distribution of pornography involving minors.1519

Enforcement of child labor laws is the responsibility of the Ministry of Labor.1520 The U.S. Department of State reports that inspectors focus on the formal sector, where child labor is less frequent.1521 The Child Labor Unit of the Ministry of Labor was strengthened in 2006 to increase capacity to conduct inspections, through the hiring of additional technical and inspection officers.1522 The Ministry of Labor has 163 labor inspectors, including 24 who work specifically on child labor issues.1523 During 2006, the Labor Ministry concentrated on monitoring and inspecting sugarcane plantations, resulting in the removal of 149 children from working in sugarcane.1524 The National Committee Against Trafficking in Persons comprises 15 government agencies that are responsible for combating trafficking.1525 In 2006, about 55 children were rescued from trafficking circumstances by Salvadoran authorities.1526

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

The Government of El Salvador has launched a 2006-2009 National Plan for the Eradication of the Worst Forms of Child Labor, identifying the following as strategic areas of intervention: strengthening of the legal framework; strengthening of institutions; enhancement of educational interventions; provision of health care; provision of recreational, cultural, and sports activities; improving income generation; and strengthening of communication and awareness raising.1527 The Government of El Salvador continues to participate in various USDOL-funded child labor projects implemented by ILO-IPEC. These include a USD 4 million Child Labor Education Initiative, which aims to prevent and withdraw children from exploitive labor through the provision of education services.1528 Also, there is a USD 7.3 million project to support a National Timebound Program to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in fishing, sugar cane harvesting, commercial sexual exploitation, and garbage-dump scavenging, which entered its second phase in 2006.1529 The two USDOL-funded projects, together, aim to withdraw 12,610 and prevent 26,388 children from exploitive child labor.1530

The Government of El Salvador also participates in regional projects funded by USDOL. These include a USD 8.8 million regional project implemented by ILO-IPEC that seeks to withdraw 713 children and prevent 657 children from commercial sexual exploitation in the region.1531 The government also participates in a USD 5.7 million Central America regional Child Labor Education Initiative project to strengthen government and civil society's capacity to reduce and prevent exploitive child labor through education. This project implemented by CARE-USA seeks to withdraw or prevent 2,984 children from exploitive child labor regionally.1532 With support from the Government of Italy, ILO-IPEC is also working with the Government of El Salvador and other governments of the region to complete a 4-year regional project to reduce the activities of children scavenging in garbage dumps.1533


1492 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, October 7, 2005.

1493 Constitution of the Republic of El Salvador, Title 2, Chapter 1, Section 2.

1494 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, EFA Global Monitoring Report 2007: Strong Foundations, Paris, 2007, page 268; available from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001477/147794E.pdf.

1495 Constitution, Articles 53-57. See also Government of El Salvador, Plan Nacional 2006-2009 para la Erradicación de las Peores Formas de Trabajo Infantil, Comité Nacional para la Erradicación de las Peores Formas de Trabajo Infantil, March 2006, 11; available from http://www.oit.org.pe/ipec/documentos/plan_nacional_es.pdf.

1496 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Gross Enrolment Ratio. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

1497 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Net Enrolment Rate. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

1498 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

1499 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Survival Rate to Grade 5. Total, accessed December 18, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org.

1500 ILO, Ratifications by Country, accessed October 19, 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newratframeE.htm.

1501 Ibid.

1502 ILO, IPEC Action Against Child Labor – Highlights 2006, [online] February 2007 [cited March 29, 2007]; available from http://www.ilo.org/iloroot/docstore/ipec/prod/eng/20070228_Implementationreport_en_Web.pdf.

1503 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

1504 ILO-IPEC, Supporting the Time-bound Programme for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in El Salvador – Phase II, project document, Geneva, September 30, 2006.

1505 ILO-IPEC, Summary of the Results of the Child Labour Survey in El Salvador, Geneva, July 2004; available from http://www.oit.org.pe/ipec/documentos/esa_sum.pdf. See also ILO-IPEC, El Salvador TBP (II), project document, 4.

1506 ILO-IPEC, El Salvador TBP (II), project document.

1507 Human Rights Watch, Abuses Against Child Domestic Workers in El Salvador, Vol. 16, No. 1 (B), January 2004, 13; available from http://www.hrw.org/reports/2004/elsalvador0104/elsalvador0104.pdf.

1508 U.S. Department of State, "El Salvador," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2006, Washington, DC, March 6, 2007, Sections 5 and 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/.

1509 Ibid.

1510 Ibid. See also U.S. Department of State, "El Salvador (Tier 2 Watch List)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006, Washington, DC, June 5, 2006; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2006/65988.htm.

1511 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: El Salvador," Section 5.

1512 Government of El Salvador, Decreto No. 457, (October 7, 2004), Article 114. See also Constitution of El Salvador 1983, Article 38, Part 10.

1513 Decreto No. 457, 114-115. See also Government of El Salvador, Código de Trabajo.

1514 Decreto No. 457, 116.

1515 Constitution of El Salvador 1983, Article 9. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: El Salvador," Section 6c.

1516 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "El Salvador," in Global Report 2004, London, 2004.

1517 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: El Salvador," Section 5.

1518 Ibid.

1519 Government of El Salvador, Decreto No. 210, (November 25, 2003), Articles 169, 170 and 173. See also Government of El Salvador, Código Penal.

1520 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: El Salvador," Section 6d.

1521 Ibid.

1522 ILO-IPEC, Supporting the Time-bound Programme for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in El Salvador, technical progress report, Geneva, September 30, 2006, 11.

1523 U.S. Embassy – San Salvador, reporting, December 18, 2006.

1524 Ibid.

1525 U.S. Embassy – San Salvador, reporting, March 5, 2007.

1526 Ibid. See also Ambassador of El Salvador, Letter to USDOL official, January 8, 2007.

1527 Government of El Salvador, Plan Nacional. See also ILO-IPEC, El Salvador TBP, technical progress report, September 2006.

1528 ILO-IPEC, El Salvador TBP (II), project document.

1529 Ibid., 1, iii. See also ILO-IPEC, Time-Bound Programme and Education Initiative, Technical Progress Report, Geneva, September 30, 2006. See also U.S. Embassy – San Salvador, reporting, March 5, 2007.

1530 ILO-IPEC, El Salvador TBP (II), project document. See also ILO-IPEC, ILO-IPEC GPRA Report: Number of Children Withdrawn/Prevented Projects Funded from FY2006, Geneva, 2007.

1531 ILO-IPEC, Stop the Exploitation. Contribution to the Prevention and Elimination of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Central America, Panama, and the Dominican Republic, technical progress report March 2005.

1532 CARE-USA, APRENDO Project: Combating Exploitive Child Labor Through Education in Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua) and the Dominican Republic, project document, August 16, 2004.

1533 ILO-IPEC, Ficha: Avances en la prevención y erradicación del trabajo infantil en El Salvador, 2006, [online] 2006 [cited October 5, 2006]; available from http://www.oit.org.pe/spanish/260ameri/oitreg/activid/proyectos/ipec/documentos/ficha_pais_esa.pdf. See also ILO-IPEC official, email communication to USDOL official, November 14, 2005.

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