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2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Bolivia

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 27 August 2008
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Bolivia, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa460c.html [accessed 25 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 Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor367
Working children, 7-14 years (%), 2002:23.2
Working boys, 7-14 years (%), 2002:23.9
Working girls, 7-14 years (%), 2002:22.5
Working children by sector, 7-14 years (%), 2002:
     – Agriculture76.3
     – Manufacturing4.2
     – Services18.8
     – Other0.7
Minimum age for work:14
Compulsory education age:15
Free public education:Yes
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2004:113
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2004:95
School attendance, children 7-14 years (%), 2002:93.5
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2003:85
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In Bolivia, many children work with their families in subsistence agriculture. Children can also be found working in the production of sugar cane and Brazil nuts, especially in Santa Cruz and Tarija.368 Children engage in activities such as street vending, shining shoes, and assisting transport operators.369 Additionally, children work in industry, construction, small business, personal services, hotels and restaurants, and small-scale mining.370 Children are also being used to transport drugs.371 Some children are brought or sent by their family members from rural to urban areas to work as domestic servants or "criaditos" for higher-income families, often in situations that amount to indentured servitude.372

The commercial sexual exploitation of children, including child prostitution, is a problem in Bolivia, particularly in the Chapare region and in urban areas.373 The internal trafficking of children for the purposes of prostitution, domestic service, mining, and agricultural labor, particularly on sugar cane and Brazil nut plantations, also occurs.374 Children are also trafficked to neighboring countries for forced labor.375 A study sponsored by IOM and the OAS found that there were girls from Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Chile, and Colombia working as prostitutes in urban centers in Bolivia.376

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

Bolivian law sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years.377 Apprenticeship for children ages 12 to 14 years is permitted with various restrictions.378 Children 14 to 18 years must have the permission of their parents or of government authorities in order to work.379 The law prohibits children 14 to 17 years from taking part in hazardous activities such as carrying excessively heavy loads, working underground, working with pesticides and other chemicals, or working at night. The law also requires employers to grant time off to adolescent workers who have not completed their primary or secondary education so that they may attend school during normal school hours.380 The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor.381 The law also prohibits any kind of labor without consent and fair compensation.382 Bolivian men who have reached the age of 18 years are required to perform military service for 1 year. The law allows children 15 years and older to volunteer for certain military activities if they have completed 3 years of secondary education.383

The law prohibits trafficking for the purpose of prostitution of minors and imposes penalties of 8 to 12 years of imprisonment, which increase by 25 percent if the victim is under 18 years of age. 384 Since 2007, authorities opened 118 anti-trafficking investigations and rescued 129 young victims of trafficking. The special anti-trafficking police and prosecutors also convicted 5 traffickers who received jail sentences from 3 to 7 years. 385

There are 260 municipal Defender of Children and Adolescents offices to protect children's rights and interests.386 Childhood and Adolescence Courts are empowered to resolve issues involving children and apply sanctions for violations of the law.387 USDOS reported that the Government of Bolivia did not enforce child labor laws throughout the country, but notes a steady progress in the Government's increased resolve to combat trafficking, especially in the areas of enforcement, protection for victims, and prevention.388

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

The Government of Bolivia's policy framework to address child labor is the National Plan for the Progressive Eradication of Child Labor 2000-2010. The plan identifies mining, sugarcane harvesting, and urban work as priority areas to combat exploitive child labor.389 The National Commission for the Progressive Eradication of Child Labor implements action programs under three subcommittees, each dedicated to one sector.390 An independent evaluation conducted on the implementation of the first half of the National Plan found that financing has been lacking.391

The Vice Ministry of Gender and Adolescence (formerly the Vice Ministry of Youth, Childhood, and Senior Citizens) implements a Plan for the Prevention of and Attention to Commercial Sexual Exploitation, with a focus on efforts in the country's largest cities.392 The Government has also made efforts to increase public awareness of trafficking by airing television segments at airports, and launching a National Police campaign targeting children, parents, and local authorities.393 The Government of La Paz operates an emergency shelter for youth victims of sexual exploitation that provide 3-day services to trafficking victims.394

The Government of Bolivia is working with NGOs and foreign governments to provide free birth registration and identity documentation to citizens in order to facilitate their access to social services such as education, and reduce their vulnerability to trafficking.395 The IOM is working with the government to implement projects that address the trafficking of women and minors and to build the country's capacity to prevent it.396 The municipal Defender of Children and Adolescents offices assists victims of trafficking, sometimes in cooperation with NGOs.397

The Bolivian Government is implementing a cash subsidy program called Bono Juancito Pinto for all primary school students, conditioned on school attendance. Children grades 1 through 6 receive USD 15 at the completion of the school term.398

The Government of Bolivia and the other government members and associates of MERCOSUR are conducting the "Niño Sur" ("Southern Child") initiative to defend the rights of children and adolescents in the region. The initiative includes unified public campaigns against commercial sexual exploitation, trafficking and child labor; mutual technical assistance in adjusting domestic legal frameworks to international standards on those issues; and the exchange of best practices related to victim protection and assistance.399

Since October 2007 and until December 2010, USDOL is funding a USD 3.4 million project implemented by Desarrollo y Autogestión and the Bolivian Swiss Red Cross to improve access to basic education for working children in Bolivia. The project aims to withdraw 2,900 children who are working and prevent 2,900 children at risk of entering exploitive labor in Santa Cruz and Chuquisaca.400 Bolivia is also part of a 460,000 Euros ILO-IPEC global initiative funded by the Netherlands to combat child domestic work.401

USAID, the Secretary of State of Economy of the Swiss Confederation, UNICEF, and the Bolivian Institute of Foreign Trade are collaborating in a corporate social responsibility effort with the sugar sector in Santa Cruz. The activities targeting the welfare of families working in the sugar plantations include child labor prevention actions such as distribution of school materials for school-aged children.402


367 For statistical data not cited here, see the Data Sources and Definitions section. For data on ratifications and ILO-IPEC membership, see the Executive Summary. For minimum age for admission to work, age to which education is compulsory, and free public education, see Government of Bolivia, Ley del Código del Niño, Niña y Adolescente, Ley No. 2026, (October 27, 1999), article 126; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/WEBTEXT/55837/68387/S99BOL01.htm. See also Government of Bolivia, Constitución Política del Estado, Ley 1615, (February 6, 1995), article 177; available from http://www.geocities.com/bolilaw/legisla.htm.

368 UNICEF, Caña dulce, vida amarga: El trabajo de los niños, niñas y adolescentes en la zafra de caña de azúcar, 2004, 11; available from http://www.oit.org.pe/ipec/boletin/documentos/zafra_final_bo.pdf. See also U.S. Department of State, "Bolivia," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2007, Washington, DC, March 11, 2008, section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100629.htm. See also CEACR, Solicitud directa individual sobre el Convenio sobre las peores formas de trabajo infantil, 1999 (núm. 182) Bolivia (ratificación: 2003) Envío: 2007, CEACR 2006/77a reunión, 2007; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/cgilex/pdconvs2.pl?host=status01&textbase=iloilc&document=238&chapter=18&query=C182%40ref%2B%23ANO% 3D2007&highlight=&querytype=bool&context=0.

369 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Bolivia," section 6d.

370 Victor Mezza Rosso, Carmen Ledo García, and Isabel Quisbert Arias, Trabajo Infantil en Bolivia, National Institute of Statistics and UNICEF, La Paz, 2004, 31-32. See also Noel Aguirre Ledezma, Plan Nacional de erradicación progresiva del trabajo infantil: Evaluación externa de medio término, informe preliminar, May 2005, 11. See also UNICEF, Buscando la luz al final del túnel: niños, niñas y adolescentes en la minería artesanal en Bolivia, 2004; available from http://www.oit.org.pe/ipec/boletin/documentos/mineria_final_bo.pdf.

371 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Bolivia," section 6d.

372 Ibid. See also Erick Roth U. and Erik Fernandez R., Evaluación del tráfico de mujeres, adolescentes y niños/as en Bolivia, IOM, OAS, and Scientific Consulting SRL, La Paz, 2004, 10,51.

373 UNICEF, La niñez clausurada: La explotación sexual comercial de niñas, niños y adolescentes en Bolivia, 2004, 11,17; available from http://www.oit.org.pe/ipec/boletin/documentos/esci_final_bo.pdf. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Bolivia," section 5.

374 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Bolivia," section 5. See also U.S. Department of State, "Bolivia (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82805.htm.

375 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Bolivia," section 5.

376 Roth U. and Erik Fernandez R., Evaluación del tráfico de mujeres, 47.

377 Government of Bolivia, Ley del Código del Niño, Niña y Adolescente, article 126. See also Government of Bolivia, Ley General de Trabajo, (December 8, 1942); available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/WEBTEXT/46218/65057/S92BOL01.htm#t4c6.

378 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Bolivia," section 6d.

379 Government of Bolivia, Ley General de Trabajo, article 8.

380 Government of Bolivia, Ley del Código del Niño, Niña y Adolescente, 134, 146, 147.

381 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Bolivia," section 6c.

382 Government of Bolivia, Constitución Política del Estado, article 5.

383 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Bolivia," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=811.

384 Government of Bolivia, Ley 3325: Trata y Trafico de Personas y Otros Delitos Relacionados, (January 18, 2006); available from http://www.bolivialegal.com/modules/Sileg/pdfphp.php?numero=6&dbname=slb402.

385 U.S. Embassy – La Paz official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, July 28, 2008.

386 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Bolivia," section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – La Paz official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, April 2, 2007.

387 Government of Bolivia, Written communication, submitted in response to U.S. Department of Labor Federal Register Notice (July 25, 2005) "Request for Information on Efforts by Certain Countries to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor", Washington, DC, August 31, 2005.

388 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Bolivia." See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Bolivia," section 6d.

389 CEACR, Bolivia (ratificación: 1997), 2007; available from http://webfusion.ilo.org/public/db/standards/normes/appl/appl-displaycomment.cfm?hdroff=1&ctry=0080&year=2006&type=R&conv=C138&lang=ES.

390 CEACR, Solicitud directa individual sobre el Convenio sobre las peores formas de trabajo infantil, 1999 (núm. 182) Bolivia (ratificación: 2003) Envío: 2007.

391 Aguirre Ledezma, Plan Nacional de erradicación progresiva del trabajo infantil: Evaluación externa, 36.

392 Aguirre Ledezma, Plan Nacional de erradicación progresiva del trabajo infantil: Evaluación externa, 22, 31.

393 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Bolivia."

394 Ibid. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Bolivia," section 5.

395 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Bolivia," section 5.

396 IOM, Bolivia, [online] [cited December 10, 2007]; available from http://www.iom.int/jahia/page447.html.

397 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Bolivia," section 5.

398 U.S. Embassy – La Paz, reporting, January 24, 2008.

399 CRIN, MERCOSUR, [online] 2007 [cited December 26, 2007]; available from http://www.crin.org/espanol/RM/mercosur.asp. See also Government of Argentina, Iniciativa Niñ@SUR, [online] 2008 [cited March 16, 2008]; available from http://www.derhuman.jus.gov.ar/direcciones/asistencia/ninosur.htm.

400 Desarrollo y Autogestión, Project Summary: Combating Exploitive Child Labor Through Education in Bolivia, 2007.

401 ILO-IPEC, ILO-IPEC Table of Non USDOL-funded Projects, USDOL Questions, February 16, 2007.

402 U.S. Embassy – La Paz official, E-mail communication, April 2, 2007.

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