Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 August 2014, 09:38 GMT

2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Guinea-Bissau

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 18 April 2003
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Guinea-Bissau, 18 April 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7489337.html [accessed 20 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.

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

The Government of Guinea-Bissau has noted that child labor occurs and is harmful to the development of those involved, but states that it lacks the resources or mechanisms to adequately address the problem.1647 Small-scale child labor initiatives that focus on literacy, education alternatives and technical training are being implemented by NGOs.1648

The government is implementing a basic education project, called "FIRKIDJA," which is designed to improve both access to schools and the quality of education, promote girls' schooling, and strengthen educational management.1649 The World Bank is one of the organizations assisting the Ministry of Education to achieve these goals through a USD 14.3 million Basic Education Support loan project.1650 In addition, UNICEF is supporting the government with a program focusing on promoting female literacy and girls' access to education in one targeted region of the country.1651

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2000, UNICEF estimated that 65.4 percent of children ages 5 to 14 years in Guinea-Bissau were working.1652 Children work in street trading, farming, and domestic labor.1653 According to the government, the number of children working in the informal sector – often in difficult or dangerous conditions – is increasing considerably.1654 In addition, commercial sexual exploitation of children occurs, but the extent of the problem is unknown.1655 Children were reported to be involved in the recent civil war in Guinea-Bissau.1656

Education is compulsory from the age of 7 to 13 years.1657 In 1998, the gross primary enrollment rate was 53.5 percent, with a higher enrollment rate for males (67.7 percent) compared to females (40 percent).1658 The number of classrooms and schools is insufficient, particularly in rural areas where the majority of the population resides. According to UNICEF, 25 percent of rural schools offer only two grades, and 50 percent offer only four grades.1659 Girls face additional challenges to receiving an education, as they are often kept home to assist with domestic work, encouraged to marry at an early age,1660 and banned from schools when pregnant.1661

Guinea-Bissau is continuing to recover from the civil conflict in 1998 and 1999, which displaced one-third of the population, destroyed many schools, and prevented most young children from attending school for at least half a year.1662

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The General Labor Law sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years for factory work and 18 years for heavy or dangerous labor, including work in mines.1663 The law prohibits forced or bonded labor.1664 There are no laws that specifically prohibit the commercial sexual exploitation of children.1665 The practice of prostitution for lucrative purposes is illegal in Guinea-Bissau, as is the use of violence, threats, or other coercive actions to transport individuals to foreign countries.1666 According to Decree 20/83, boys under 16 years may volunteer for the armed forces, and all citizens between the ages of 18 and 25 must perform compulsory military service.1667

The Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Civil Service and Labor are responsible for enforcing labor laws in the formal sector,1668 but due to economic conditions, formal sector employment of any kind is virtually nonexistent.1669 There is no information available on the enforcement of laws pertaining to trafficking or commercial sexual exploitation of children.

The Government of Guinea-Bissau has not ratified either ILO Convention 138 or ILO Convention 182.1670


1647 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial reports of States parties due in 1992, Guinea-Bissau, CRC/C/3/ Add.63, prepared by Government of Guinea-Bissau, pursuant to Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, July 26, 2001, para. 139-42.

1648 Ibid., para. 252.

1649 Ibid., para. 29.

1650 World Bank, Basic Education Support Project, World Bank Project Data, [cited August 28, 2002]; available from http://www4.worldbank.org/sprojects/Project.asp?pid=P001015.

1651 UNICEF, Girls' Education in Guinea Bissau, [cited August 28, 2002]; available from http://www.unicef.org/ programme/girlseducation/action/cases/guinea_bissau.htm.

1652 In the 2000 study, children who are working in some capacity include children who have performed any paid or unpaid work for someone who is not a member of the household, who have performed more than four hours of housekeeping chores in the household, or who have performed other family work. It was estimated that 5.1 percent of children ages 5 to 14 engage in paid work; 9.7 percent participate in unpaid work for someone other than a household member; and, overall, 65.4 percent of children are working in some capacity. Government of Guinea-Bissau, Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS): Guinea-Bissau, UNICEF, December 2000, [cited August 28, 2002]; available from www.childinfo.org/MICS2/newreports/guineabissau/guineabissau.PDF. See also Government of Guinea-Bissau, Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2: Guinea Bissau, UNICEF, 2000, [cited August 28, 2002]; available from http://www.ucw-project.org/resources/index.html.

1653 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2001: Guinea-Bissau, Washington, D.C., March 4, 2002, 355-57 [cited August 28, 2002]; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001/af/8385.htm.

1654 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Reports of States Parties, para. 250.

1655 Prostitution among young people is reported to be reaching alarming proportions. Ibid., para. 253.

1656 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Child Soldiers 1379 Report, November 2002, 38, [cited November 11, 2002]; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/cs/childsoldiers.nsf/Display%20Message/ CSC%20Publications?OpenDocument. See also UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention: Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Guinea Bissau, CRC/C/15/Add.177, Geneva, June 13, 2002, para. 48.

1657 UNICEF, Youth at the UN, Country Profiles on the Situation of Youth: Guinea-Bissau, UNICEF, 2000 [cited August 8, 2002]; available from http://esa.un.org/socdev/unyin/countrya.asp?countrycode=gw.

1658 Net enrollment statistics on Guinea-Bissau are not available. UNESCO, Education for All (EFA) Year 2000 Assessment: Guinea-Bissau [CD-ROM], Paris, 2000.

1659 UNICEF, Girls' Education in Guinea Bissau.

1660 Ibid. See also UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Reports of States Parties, para 33.

1661 UNICEF, Girls' Education in Guinea Bissau.

1662 UNICEF, UNICEF's Humanitarian Response to Children, January – December 1999, Guinea-Bissau, UNICEF, 11, [cited August 28, 2002]; available from www.unicef.org/cap/gbissau.pdf.

1663 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Guinea-Bissau, 355-57, Section 6d.

1664 Ibid., 355-57, Section 6c.

1665 ECPAT International, Guinea-Bissau, in ECPAT International, [database online] 2002 [cited August 28 2002], "CSEC Overview"; available from http://www.ecpat.net/eng/Ecpat_inter/projects/monitoring/online_database/ index.asp.

1666 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Reports of States Parties, para. 259-61.

1667 Ibid., para. 137.

1668 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Guinea-Bissau, 355-57, Section 6d.

1669 U.S. Embassy – Dakar, unclassified telegram no. 3985, December 2001.

1670 ILO, Ratifications by Country, in ILOLEX, [database online] [cited August 28 2002]; available from http://ilolex.ilo.ch:1567/english/newratframeE.htm.

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