Last Updated: Friday, 26 December 2014, 13:50 GMT

2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Bhutan

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 - Bhutan, 31 August 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7492350.html [accessed 27 December 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 10-14 estimated as working in 2003:19.6%472
Minimum age for admission to work:18473
Age to which education is compulsory:17474
Free public education:Yes475
Gross primary enrollment rate:Unavailable
Net primary enrollment rate:Unavailable
Percent of children 5-14 attending school in 2003:69%476
As of 2000, percent of primary school entrants likely to reach grade 5:91%477
Ratified Convention 138:Non-ILO member478
Ratified Convention 182:Non-ILO member479
ILO-IPEC participating country:No480

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2003, approximately 16.1 percent of boys and 22.7 percent of girls ages 10 to 14 were working in Bhutan. The majority of working children were found in the agricultural sector (92.2 percent), followed by services (1.9 percent), manufacturing (0.1 percent), and other sectors (5.9 percent).481 Children working in agriculture do so primarily on family farms.482 Migrant workers including child workers as young as 11 are found in road construction.483 Children also work as doma sellers and as street vendors;484 according to UNICEF, they are also involved in commercial sexual exploitation.485

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

Bhutanese law prohibits the employment of children and states that candidates seeking employment shall have attained the age of majority, 18 years, to be eligible for appointment to any post in a business establishment.486 The Ministry of Labor reportedly conducts 10 to 15 inspections per week, most of which are in the construction sector, where most foreign child workers are found.487 Forced labor is prohibited by Bhutanese law.488 Bhutanese law also criminalizes sex crimes and offenses against children.489 According to the law of Bhutan, child trafficking has a minimum penalty of 3 years.490 Prostitution is a felony with penalties varying according to the age of the child.491 Children are permitted to enlist in the armed forces at 15 years.492

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

Research has not identified any policies or programs by the Government of Bhutan to address exploitive child labor.


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

473 Government of Bhutan, Rules and Regulations on Employment of Bhutanese Nationals in the Private Sector, (1997).

474 U.S. Department of State, "Bhutan," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2006, Washington, DC, March 6, 2007, Section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78870.htm.

475 Ibid.

476 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Attendance Statistics, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

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

478 ILO, Alphabetical list of ILO member countries, [online] 2006 [cited December 21, 2006]; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/relm/country.htm.

479 Ibid.

480 ILO, IPEC Actions Against Child Labour – Highlights 2006, Geneva, October 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/iloroot/docstore/ipec/prod/eng/20070228_Implementationreport_en_Web.pdf.

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

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

483 U.S. Embassy – New Delhi, reporting September 17, 2004.

484 UNICEF, Report on Assessment of Protection Factors of Children in Bhutan, Ministry of Health, Thimphu, 2004.

485 Ibid.

486 United Nations, Initial Reports of State Parties due in 1992: Bhutan, October 14, 1999, UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Reports of State Parties due in 1992: Bhutan, CRC/C/3/Add.60, prepared by Government of Bhutan, pursuant to Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, October 1999. See also Government of Bhutan, Rules and Regulations on Employment.

487 U.S. Embassy – New Delhi, reporting September 17, 2004.

488 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Bhutan," Section 6c.

489 U.S. Embassy – New Delhi, reporting September 17, 2004.

490 Government of Bhutan, Penal Code of Bhutan, para 3(a).

491 Ibid., para. 380.

492 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Summary Record of the 715th Meeting: Bhutan, United Nations, Geneva, June 2001.

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