Last Updated: Friday, 22 August 2014, 15:07 GMT

2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Kenya

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 - Kenya, 31 August 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7493dc.html [accessed 23 August 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 2000:32.5%2319
Minimum age of work:162320
Age to which education is compulsory:142321
Free public education:Yes2322*
Gross primary enrollment rate in 2004:111%2323
Net primary enrollment rate in 2004:76%2324
Percent of children 5-14 attending school in 2000:74.9%2325
As of 2003 percentage of primary school entrants likely to reach grade 5:75%2326
Ratified Convention 138:4/9/19792327
Ratified Convention 182:5/7/20012328
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes2329
* Must pay for school supplies and related items.

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2000, approximately 34.7 percent of boys and 30.4 percent of girls 5 to 14 were working in Kenya.2330 Children work in the informal sector and with their families – in businesses as well as in agriculture. Children work in commercial and subsistence agriculture, and work with their families on tea, coffee, rice, and sugar plantations.2331 Children work in herding and in fisheries. Children also work in domestic service, construction, transport, quarries, and mines, including gold mines. Street children work in the informal sector.2332

Children are reported to engage in prostitution in bars, discos, brothels, massage parlors, and on the streets. While the majority of children exploited in prostitution are between 13 and 17, children as young as 9 are reported to be involved.2333 Many girls who hawk or beg during the day reportedly engage in prostitution at night. In the agricultural sector, girls are sometimes forced to provide sexual services in order to obtain plantation work. Sudanese and Somali refugee children are also alleged to be involved in prostitution in Kenya.2334 The growth of the tourism industry has been accompanied by an increase in children's involvement in prostitution.2335

In 2006, UNICEF released a study on sex tourism and the commercial sexual exploitation of children along Kenya's coast. The report found that in the coastal towns of Malindi, Mombasa, Kalifi, and Diana, up to 15,000 girls or up to 30 percent of all children 12 to 18 years living in these areas engage in "casual" prostitution.2336 It found that up to 3,000 additional boys and girls were engaged in prostitution on a full-time, year-round basis, and that 45 percent of girls involved in prostitution and sex tourism were between 12 and 13 when they first engaged in transactional sex.2337

Kenyan boys between 15 and 18 years are trafficked to the Middle East for labor exploitation.2338 Within Kenya, children are trafficked for domestic service, street vending, agricultural work, and commercial sexual exploitation. Kenya's coastal area is a known destination for trafficked children to be exploited in sex tourism.2339 Poverty, the death of one or both parents, and self-interest may contribute to a family's decision to place a child with better-off relatives, friends, or acquaintances, who may end up trafficking and/or exploiting the child. Child trafficking in Kenya occurs mainly through personal and familial networks.2340

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for employment at 16 years.2341 The law on minimum age does not apply to children who work in agriculture or apprenticeships.2342 The law, however, prohibits all forms of child labor that are hazardous, exploitive, or would prevent children under 16 years from attending school.2343

The Kenyan Constitution prohibits slavery, bonded and forced labor, and servitude, including by children.2344 The law prohibits the procurement of girls under 21 for the purpose of unlawful sexual relations,2345 the commercial sexual exploitation of children, and the transportation of children for sale.2346 On July 14, 2006, President Kibaki signed into law the Sexual Offenses Act, which specifically criminalizes child trafficking, trafficking for sexual exploitation, child prostitution, child pornography and sex tourism, rape and defilement. For child trafficking, the minimum penalty is 10 years of imprisonment plus a fine, and for trafficking for sexual exploitation, the minimum penalty is 15 years of imprisonment, a fine, or both. If a girl under 14 years is raped, the perpetrator is considered to have committed the lesser offense of "defilement" under Kenyan law. The new law also provides harsher penalties for defilement than it does for rape.2347 The law also prohibits children under 18 years from being recruited into the military and holds the government responsible for protecting, rehabilitating, and reintegrating children involved in armed conflict into society.2348

The Ministry of Labor and Human Resource Development is responsible for enforcing child labor laws, but, according to the U.S. Department of State, the Ministry's enforcement of the minimum age law continues to be nominal.2349

The police anti-trafficking unit and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) are responsible for combating trafficking, but, according to the U.S. Department of State, are not yet effective.2350

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

The Government of Kenya's National Development Plan for 2002-2008 recognizes child labor as a problem and calls for an evaluation of the impact of child labor on the individual and the country, as well as its implications on the quality of the future labor force.2351

In February 2006, the government renewed the 3-year mandate for the National Steering Committee on the Elimination of Child Labor. An Inter-Ministerial Coordination Committee on Child Labor chaired by the vice president is responsible for setting general policy.2352 In December 2006, the Ministry of Home Affairs, in collaboration with the Offices of the President and Vice President and the Ministries of Labor, Education, and Tourism, established a National Steering Committee to combat human trafficking. Several ministries continued to implement a trafficking education, awareness, and inspection program for the country's 68 foreign employment agencies.2353

The Government of Kenya continues to participate in a 4-year, USD 5 million Project of Support to the Kenya Timebound Program on the Elimination of Child Labor funded by USDOL and implemented by ILO-IPEC. The project aims to withdraw 15,000 children and prevent 7,000 children from exploitive labor in domestic service, commercial sexual exploitation, commercial and subsistence agriculture, fishing, herding, and informal-sector street work.2354 The government collaborated with ILO-IPEC on the USD 5.3 million, regional project, Building the Foundations for Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labor in Anglophone Africa, funded by USDOL. This project withdrew a total of 6611 children and prevented 8061 from exploitive labor in five countries, including Kenya.2355 The Government of Kenya also collaborates on the 4-year, USD 14.5 million Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia Together (KURET) Project funded by USDOL and implemented by World Vision, in partnership with the International Rescue Committee and the Academy for Educational Development. The KURET Project aims to withdraw or prevent a total of 30,600 children from exploitive labor in HIV/AIDS-affected areas of these four countries through the provision of educational services.2356 Kenya also participates in the 5-year USDOL-funded Reducing Child Labor through Education (CIRCLE 1 and 2) global projects implemented by Winrock International through 2008; these projects work with community-based organizations to prevent or reduce exploitive child labor through the provision of education.2357

The government also collaborated with ILO-IPEC on the implementation of two other child labor and education projects, including a USD 1.527 million regional project to provide skills training to urban youth, funded by Canada, and a USD 449,408 project to combat child domestic work in Tanzania and Kenya, funded by Sweden.2358

In 2006, the ECPAT Code of Conduct was signed by 30 hotels on the Coast of Kenya, which is the destination of many foreign tourists visiting the country. The Ministry of Tourism and the Kenya Association of Hoteliers and Caterers have expressed their expectation that all hoteliers and other hospitality and tourism firms sign and implement the ECPAT Code of Conduct.2359

Also in 2006, the government launched a national campaign to end violence against children, including child labor, trafficking, and sexual abuse. The initiative is being spearheaded by the Children's Department, in collaboration with representatives of UNICEF, NGOs, religious groups, and the private sector, and aims to raise USD 1.4 million to protect children.2360 The government has provided shelter and medical services to street children who were involved in commercial sexual exploitation, and it established District Advisory Children's Centers throughout the country to provide counseling, educational services, medical care, and fostering to orphans and vulnerable children who are at risk of becoming victims of trafficking.2361 In 2006, the government worked with the IOM to institutionalize its efforts to fight human trafficking, and the Ministry of Home Affairs was charged with leading the Anti-Trafficking Steering Committee and the Task Force for drafting a National Action Plan on Trafficking. The Child Protection Department of the Ministry of Home Affairs received funding to hire 160 new children's officers, most of whom will be posted to the field.2362


2319 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, March 1, 2007.

2320 ILO, Report of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (articles 2, 3, 6, 7 and 8 of the Minimum Age Convention): Kenya, ILO Conference, 93rd session, Geneva, 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/gbe/ceacr2006.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, "Kenya," 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/2006/78740.htm.

2321 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, National Education Systems, accessed September 25, 2006; available from http://www.uis.unesco.org/statsen/statistics/yearbook/tables/Table3_1.html. See also ILO, Report of the Committee of Experts: Kenya. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Kenya," Section 5.

2322 ILO-IPEC, Supporting the National Plan of Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in Kenya, project document, Geneva, September 6, 2004, 6. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Kenya," Section 6d.

2323 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Gross Enrolment Ratio. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

2324 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Net Enrolment Rate. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org.

2325 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

2326 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Survival Rate to Grade 5. Total, accessed December 18, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org.

2327 ILO, Ratifications by Country accessed October 7, 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newratframeE.htm

2328 Ibid.

2329 ILO-IPEC, IPEC Action Against Child Labour: Highlights 2006, [online] 2006 [cited October 18, 2006], 30; available from http://www.ilo.org/iloroot/docstore/ipec/prod/eng/20070228_Implementationreport_en_Web.pdf.

2330 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

2331 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Kenya," Section 6d.

2332 ILO-IPEC, Supporting the National Plan of Action for the Elimination of Child Labor, project document, vi, 42. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Kenya," Section 6d.

2333 ECPAT International CSEC Database, Kenya, accessed October 7, 2006; available from http://www.ecpat.net. See also U.S. Embassy – Nairobi official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, August 11, 2006.

2334 ECPAT International CSEC Database, Kenya.

2335 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Kenya," Sections 5 and 6d.

2336 U.S. Embassy – Nairobi, reporting, December 20, 2006. See also Chris Niles, Report Reveals Kenyan Child Sex Industry of 'Horrific' Magnitude, [online] [cited April 1, 2007]; available from http://www.unicef.org/protection/kenya_37817.html.

2337 U.S. Embassy – Nairobi, reporting, December 20, 2006.

2338 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Kenya," Section 5.

2339 U.S. Department of State, "Kenya (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/2006/65989.htm. See also U.S. Embassy – Nairobi official, E-mail communication, August 11, 2006.

2340 U.S. Embassy – Nairobi official, E-mail communication, August 11, 2006.

2341 ILO, Report of the Committee of Experts: Kenya. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Kenya," Section 6d.

2342 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Kenya," Section 6d.

2343 Ibid. See also ILO NATLEX National Labor Law Database, Children Act, 2001 (No. 8 of 2001), accessed October 8, 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.home.

2344 The Constitution of Kenya, (Revised edition (1998) 1992); available from http://kenya.rcbowen.com/constitution/. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Kenya," Section 6c.

2345 Government of Kenya, Penal Code, [previously online] 1955, Section 147; available from http://209.190.246.239/protectionproject/statutesPDF/Kenya1.pdf [hard copy on file]. See also ECPAT International CSEC Database, Kenya.

2346 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Kenya," Section 5.

2347 Ibid. See also U.S. Embassy – Nairobi official, E-mail communication, August 11, 2006.

2348 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Kenya," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=803.

2349 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Kenya," Section 6d. See also U.S. Embassy – Nairobi, reporting, September 14, 2005.

2350 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Kenya," Section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – Nairobi official, Email communication to USDOL official, July 31, 2007.

2351 ILO-IPEC, Prevention, Withdrawal and Rehabilitation of Children Engaged in Hazardous Work in Commercial Agriculture in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, technical progress report, Geneva, August 29, 2002, 3.

2352 U.S. Embassy – Nairobi official, E-mail communication, August 11, 2006. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Kenya," Section 6d.

2353 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Kenya," Section 5.

2354 ILO-IPEC, Supporting the National Plan of Action for the Elimination of Child Labor, project document, i, 42-44.

2355 ILO-IPEC, Building the Foundations for Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labour in Anglophone Africa, final technical progress report, May 31, 2006. See also ILO-IPEC, Building the Foundations for Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labour in Anglophone Africa, project document, Geneva, September 24, 2002.

2356 World Vision, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia Together (KURET), project document, July 18, 2005.

2357 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 October 13, 2006]; available from http://www.winrock.org/fact/facts.asp?CC=5411&bu=. See also USDOL/ILAB, Technical Cooperation Project Summary: Community-Based Innovations to Reduce Child Labor through Education I and II (CIRCLE I and II).

2358 ILO-IPEC official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, November 16, 2006.

2359 U.S. Embassy – Nairobi official, E-mail communication, August 11, 2006. See also ILO-IPEC, Building the Foundations for Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labour in Anglophone Africa (CBP) – Kenya, technical progress report, Geneva, February 28, 2006.

2360 Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Kenya: Campaign to Stop Violence Against Children", IRINnews.org, [online], July 27, 2006 [cited October 7, 2006]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=54844. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Kenya," Section 6d.

2361 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Kenya." See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Kenya," Section 5.

2362 U.S. Embassy – Nairobi, reporting, January 10, 2007.

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