Last Updated: Monday, 28 July 2014, 16:37 GMT

2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Peru

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 22 September 2005
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Peru, 22 September 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48c8ca6c41.html [accessed 29 July 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 Child Labor Measures Adopted by Governments
Ratified Convention 138 11/13/2002X
Ratified Convention 182 1/10/2002X
ILO-IPEC MemberX
National Plan for ChildrenX
National Child Labor Action Plan 
Sector Action Plan (Commercial Sexual Exploitation)X

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

The ILO estimated that 1.7 percent of children ages 10 to 14 years in Peru were working in 2002.[3197] Children are employed in the agricultural sector (including in coca cultivation), fireworks factories, stone quarries, and the brick-making sector. Children are also found loading and unloading produce in markets, collecting garbage, and working in informal gold mining sites.[3198] In urban areas, children often sell in the streets and in markets.[3199]

Many children, most of whom are girls, move from rural areas to urban areas where they live with families and perform domestic work.[3200] In 2003, there were reports of children serving in the army in the Department of Loreto.[3201] Boys and girls are also victims of commercial sexual exploitation.[3202] There is internal trafficking of children for commercial sexual exploitation and domestic service in Peru.[3203]

The General Education Law establishes free and compulsory public education through secondary school.[3204] In 2000, the gross primary enrollment rate was 121.3 percent and the net primary enrollment was 99.9 percent.[3205] Gross and net enrollment ratios are based on the number of students formally registered in primary school and therefore do not necessarily reflect actual school attendance. In 2000, the gross primary attendance rate was 110.5 percent and the net primary attendance rate was 75.6 percent.[3206] School attendance is lower in rural and jungle areas, and girls attend at a lower rate than boys.[3207] Indigenous children and those from rural areas lack access to the education system.[3208] The average total number of years of schooling and student performance is also sharply lower in rural areas than in urban areas.[3209] The Child and Adolescent Code provides for special arrangements and school timetables so that working children and adolescents can attend school regularly.[3210]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

Children ages 12 to 14 may perform certain jobs if they obtain legal permission from the Ministry of Labor and can certify that they are attending school.[3211] According to the legislation modifying Article 51 of the Child and Adolescent Code, the minimum age for employment in non-industrial agricultural work is 15 years, 16 years for work in the industrial, commercial, and mining sectors, and 17 years for work in the industrial fishing sector.[3212] Work that might harm a child's physical or mental health and development, including underground work or work that involves heavy lifting, night work, or work that might serve as an obstacle to continued school attendance, is prohibited for children under 18 years of age.[3213] Working children must be paid at the same rate as adult workers in similar jobs.[3214]

The Child and Adolescent Code prohibits forced and slave labor, economically exploitative labor, prostitution, and trafficking.[3215] Laws prohibiting kidnapping, the sexual abuse of minors, and illegal employment are enforced and can be used to sanction individuals who traffic children for exploitative labor.[3216] New regulations require that underage children working in domestic service must have access to education.[3217]

In 2004, new laws were enacted by the Government to protect children from exploitation by adults, including trafficking in persons and sexual exploitation.[3218] The Ministry of Women and Social Development (MIMDES) is raising awareness on the new legislation through radio and other means.[3219] Also in 2004, the Government of Peru elevated the penalties against perpetrators of child pornography and prostitution.[3220]

Investigators employed by the Ministry of Labor have authority to investigate violations of child labor laws. As of August 2004, the Ministry had 200 labor inspectors, over two-thirds of whom work in Lima. Inspections are primarily conducted in the formal sector,[3221] and enforcement remedies are generally adequate to punish and deter violations.[3222] However, many children work in the informal economy where government labor law enforcement is limited.[3223]

The national police and local prosecutors have law enforcement authority over child labor violations,[3224] and the national police operate a Division for Matters Concerning Children and Adolescents to address cases concerning the rights of children and adolescents.[3225] The Directorate of Children and Adolescent Affairs, an office within MIMDES, is charged with developing and coordinating national policy on youth, especially for children and adolescents exposed to violence, extreme poverty, discrimination and social exclusion.[3226] A federal level multi-agency working group coordinates state action on the elimination of trafficking in persons and the Ministry of the Interior's anti-trafficking unit conducts raids on brothels and rescues victims.[3227] The Office of Child Protection, Safety and Health in the Workplace within the Ministry of Labor and Social Promotion protects the rights of minors in the workplace.[3228] The Municipal Child and Adolescent Defender Centers work with local governments to supervise investigations, apply punishments, and monitor compliance of child labor laws.[3229]

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

The Government of Peru supports and contributes to USDOL-funded programs to eliminate exploitive child labor in the small-scale traditional mining and domestic service sectors.[3230]

The Government of Peru heads the National Committee to Prevent and Eradicate Child Labor, a permanent organization composed of representatives from various ministries, NGOs, labor unions and employers' organizations.[3231] The Committee is responsible for addressing social and economic issues related to child labor and fulfilling Peru's international commitments to fight child labor.[3232] MIMDES has a National Action Plan for Children and Adolescents 2002-2010. The plan focuses on improving health for children 5 years and below, providing quality, intercultural basic education and the elimination of the worst forms of child labor for children ages 6 to 11 years, and promoting control over working conditions for adolescents at or above the legal working age as part of its strategic objectives.[3233] The Ministries of Labor and Social Promotion, Health, Energy and Mines, and Education operate a system that allows the government to monitor and verify progress in the elimination of child labor in small-scale mining for a 10-year period (2002-2012).[3234]

With technical assistance from the ILO, MIMDES is implementing a 10-year plan to attack child sexual exploitation called Network Now Against Child Sexual Exploitation.[3235]

The National Institute of Family Well-Being has a program that provides a variety of services to working youth, including school support, school reinsertion, reintegration into the family, and vocational training.[3236] The Ministry of Health's School and Adolescent Health Program provides medical services to children throughout the country beginning at age 5, with the aim of promoting healthy behavior.[3237]

The Ministry of Education implements a basic education program that improves the quality of education throughout the country by strengthening teachers' skills and providing them with free educational materials, especially in rural areas.[3238] The Ministry also operates a tutoring program for children formerly excluded from the public system, including working children,[3239] and is establishing night classes and lengthening matriculation periods for youth employed as domestics in private homes.[3240] In addition, The Ministry of Education oversees Proyecto Materiales Educativos (Teaching Materials Project), which strengthens national capacity to develop innovative teaching materials.[3241] With funds from the OAS, the Ministry has a program to educate young children in rural areas through radio learning.[3242]

The Government of Peru, in collaboration with other public and private institutions, has a National Plan for Education for All that is being executed from 2004-2015. The Plan aims to improve educational coverage and access, equalize opportunities for bilingual, rural, and female children, and improves the quality, pertinence, and efficiency of education.[3243] USAID, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, is expanding a girls' education initiative to provide technical assistance, develop models of educational decentralization, and strengthen local educational capacity.[3244]

The IDB is providing a social development loan to the Government of Peru that includes an infrastructure component for kindergarten and primary schools in rural areas.[3245] The IDB is also providing a loan to the Ministry of Labor and Social Promotion to expand the vocational training services offered through the ministries' ProJoven program and to strengthen the link between training institutions and the private sector.[3246] With financing from the World Bank, the Ministry of Education implements a project to extend access to rural basic education, improve teaching quality and motivation in rural areas, and strengthen education management.[3247]


[3197] World Bank, World Development Indicators 2004 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2004. As noted in the "Data Sources" chapter of this report, estimates on the number of working children are likely to be underestimates because the nature of household surveys do not lend themselves to collecting data on children who are working in the informal or illegal sectors of the economy, particularly children engaged in the worst forms of child labor.

[3198] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2003: Peru, U.S. Department of State, Washington D.C., February 25, 2004, Section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27916.htm.

[3199] Dirección Técnica de Demografía e Indicadores Sociales, Visión del Trabajo Infantil y Adolescente en el Perú, 2001, Institución Nacional de Estadistica e Informatica, Lima, October 2002, 39; available from http://www.oit.org.pe/ipec/tid/docs/la_ninez_en_el_peru.pdf.

[3200] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Peru, Section 6d.

[3201] U.S. Embassy-Lima, unclassified telegram no. 1123, March 4, 2003. The lack of precise documentation of many citizens, particularly in the countryside and in remote, poor, rural areas, may lead to the admission of underage soldiers in the military. U.S. Embassy Official-Quito, e-mail communication to, Department of Labor Official, May 25, 2005.

[3202] ECPAT International, Peru, in ECPAT International, [database online] [cited May 25, 2004]; available from http://www.ecpat.net/eng/Ecpat_inter/projects/monitoring/online_database/index.asp.

[3203] U.S. Department of State, Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000: Trafficking in Persons Report, 2004; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2004.

[3204] El Presidente de la República, Ley General de Educación, 28044, Lima, July 17, 2003, articles 4, 8 and 12. The General Education Law was passed on July 17, 2003 and includes articles on bilingual, intercultural, and vocational education, as well as on regular and alternative basic education for working children and adolescents. See El Presidente de la República, Ley General de Educación, articles 20, 36 and 37.

[3205] World Bank, World Development Indicators 2004. For an explanation of gross primary enrollment and/or attendance rates that are greater than 100 percent, please see the definitions of gross primary enrollment rate and gross primary attendance rate in the glossary of this report.

[3206] USAID Development Indicators Service, Global Education Database, [online] [cited October 13, 2004]; available from http://qesdb.cdie.org/ged/index.html.

[3207] World Bank, World Development Indicators 2004.

[3208] International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, Peru: Report on Core Labour Standards for the WTO: ICFTU Report for the WTO General Council Review of the Trade Policies of Peru, Geneva, May 30-31, 2000, [cited May 24, 2004]; available from http://www.icftu.org.

[3209] World Bank, Peru-Rural Education and Teacher Development Project, project information document, PID10829, Washington, D.C., April 1, 2002, 1; available from http://www-wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2001/12/21//000094946_01122104030511/Rendered/PDF/multi0page.pdf.

[3210] ILO, The Effective Abolition of Child Labor: Peru, January 2001, 344 [cited May 26, 2004]; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/relm/gb/docs/gb280/pdf/gb-3-2-abol.pdf.

[3211] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Peru, Section 6d. See also Ley que Modifica el Artículo 51 de la Ley No. 27337, Código de los Niños y Adolescentes; available from http://www.cajpe.org.pe/rij/bases/legisla/peru/27571.htm. Working adolescents are not required to register with the Ministry of Labor if they are performing unpaid family work; however, the head of the household for which they work must register them in the municipal labor records. See Ley que Aprueba el Nuevo Código de los Niños y Adolescentes, Ley no. 27337, Capitulo IV, Régimen para el adolescente trabajador, Artículo 50; available from http://www.cajpe.org.pe/rij/bases/legisla/peru/ley1.html.

[3212] Ley que Modifica el Artículo 51.

[3213] U.S. Embassy-Lima, unclassified telegram no. 3996, August 15, 2003. See also Ley que Aprueba el Nuevo Código de los Niños y Adolescentes, Ley no. 27337. Children aged 12 to 14 years are prohibited from working more than 4 hours a day, or over 24 hours a week, and adolescents between 15 and 17 years may not work more than 6 hours a day, or over 36 hours a week.

[3214] Ley que Aprueba el Nuevo Código de los Niños y Adolescentes, Ley no. 27337, Artículo 59.

[3215] Ibid., Artículo 4.

[3216] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Peru, Section 6f.

[3217] U.S. Embassy-Lima, unclassified telegram no. 4110, August 2004.

[3218] Ibid.

[3219] Ibid.

[3220] Ibid.

[3221] Ibid.

[3222] U.S. Embassy-Lima, unclassified telegram no. 5249, October 7, 2002.

[3223] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Peru, Section 6d.

[3224] U.S. Embassy-Lima, unclassified telegram no. 5249.

[3225] Estudio Torres y Torres Lara, Directiva No. 19-95-DIVIPOLNA Sobre Atención y Intervención Policial con Niños y Adolescentes (25 de abril de 1995), [cited August 28, 2003]; available from http://www.asesor.com.pe/teleley/direc-19-95.htm.

[3226] Ministry of Women and Social Development, Gerenta de Promoción de la Niñez y la Adolescencia, [online] [cited May 26, 2004]; available from http://www.mimdes.gob.pe/dgnna/dgnnaweb1.htm. See also U.S. Embassy-Lima, unclassified telegram no. 5249.

[3227] U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report.

[3228] Nestor Popolizio, Cuestionario sobre Trabajo Infantil, Fax to DOL Official, Embassy of Peru, September 5, 2002, 4.

[3229] U.S. Embassy-Lima, unclassified telegram no. 4110. See also Ley que Aprueba el Nuevo Código de los Niños y Adolescentes, Ley no. 27337, Artículo 70.

[3230] Both ILO-IPEC regional projects are in their second phases. Other regional countries in the mining program are Bolivia and Ecuador. See ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Progressive Elimination of Child Labor in Small-scale Traditional Gold Mining in South America (Phase II), project document, RLA/02/P50/USA, Geneva, September 2002.

[3231] U.S. Embassy-Lima, unclassified telegram no. 4110.

[3232] Ibid.

[3233] Government of Perú, Plan Nacional de Acción para la Infancia y la Adolescencia 2002-2010: Construyendo un Perú Mejor para la Niñas, Niños y Adolescentes, 2002, 12-13, [previously online]; available from http://www.minmimdes.gob.pe/indiceorg.htm [hard copy on file].

[3234] U.S. Embassy-Lima, unclassified telegram no. 3996.

[3235] U.S. Embassy-Lima, unclassified telegram no. 4110.

[3236] National Institute of Family Welfare, Educadores de calle, [online] [cited May 26, 2004]; available from http://www.inabif.gob.pe/lineas/educadores.htm.

[3237] Ministry of Health, Programa Salud Escolar y Adolescente, Bureau of the Woman, Child and Adolescent, [online] [cited May 26, 2004]; available from http://www.minsa.gob.pe/psea/index.htm.

[3238] This project includes public schools in marginal urban, rural, border and emergency zones at the pre-school, primary and secondary levels. See Ministry of Education, Programa de educación básica para todos, [online] [cited May 26, 2004]; available from http://www.minedu.gob.pe/secretaria_general/of_administracion/proyectos/educ_basic.htm.

[3239] U.S. Embassy-Lima, unclassified telegram no. 4110.

[3240] U.S. Embassy-Lima, unclassified telegram no. 3996.

[3241] Ministry of Education, Proyecto Materiales Educativos, [online] [cited May 26, 2004]; available from http://www.minedu.gob.pe/gestion_pedagogica/dir_edu_inicial_primaria/proyectos/materiales_edu/materiales_educa.htm.

[3242] Ministry of Education, Descripción de la estratégia prioritaria para el período 2004-2005: Campaña de lectura, escritura, y matemática, [online] [cited October 21, 2004]; available from http://www.mineduc.cl/basica/p900/N2003091216395329578.html.

[3243] The National Forum on Education For All was formed in October 2002 within the Ministry of Education, with support from UNESCO, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNDP and other public institutions. Ministry of Education, Plan Nacional de Educación para Todos, San Borja, April 7, 2003, 1, 88; available from http://www.minedu.gob.pe/educacionparatodos/plan_nacional/dir.php?obj=dbase.htm.

[3244] USAID, Peru: Program Data Sheet 527-006, USAID, [online] 2002 [cited May 26, 2004]; available from http://www.usaid.gov/pubs/cbj2003/lac/pe/527-006.html.

[3245] Inter-American Development Bank, Peru: Stage Three of the National Program to Support Operations of the Compensation and Social Development Fund (FONCODES III), PE-0193, The Inter-American Development Bank, September 11, 2002, 11; available from http://www.iadb.org/exr/doc98/apr/pe1421e.pdf.

[3246] Inter-American Development Bank, Peru: Youth Labor Training Program, PE-0241, 2004, 1; available from http://www.iadb.org/exr/english/projects/pe1534e.pdf. See also Inter-American Development Bank, List of Recently Approved Projects, [online] 2004 [cited September 22, 2004]; available from http://www.iadb.org/exr/english/projects/ltnew.htm.

[3247] World Bank, Peru-Rural Education, project information document.

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