Last Updated: Friday, 19 December 2014, 13:25 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - El Salvador

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 - El Salvador, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa46e2.html [accessed 21 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 Labor1168
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2003:10.2
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2003:13.7
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2003:6.5
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%), 2003:
     – Agriculture51.2
     – Manufacturing12.4
     – Services35.3
     – Other1.1
Minimum age for work:14
Compulsory education age:15
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:116
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:95
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2003:80.4
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2004:69
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes
* Must pay for miscellaneous school expenses.

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In El Salvador, working is more common for children in rural areas than urban areas.1169 Children work in sugar cane and coffee harvesting, firework production, fishing, garbage scavenging, and, increasingly, as street vendors.1170 Some children work long hours as domestic servants in third-party homes.1171 Some working children assist with family-operated businesses.1172 Boys are more likely to work for pay than girls.1173

Commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children, especially girls, continues to be a problem. El Salvador is reported to be a destination and transit point for girls trafficked internationally.1174 Some children are trafficked internally from rural areas to urban areas, and to border regions for commercial sexual exploitation.1175 At-risk groups include girls, rural and poor children, uneducated adolescents, adolescent mothers, and underage foreign females.1176

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years. Children who have reached age 12 may be allowed to perform light work if it does not hinder school attendance, health, or personal development.1177 There are also exceptions for artistic performances. Children under 16 years are prohibited from working more than 6 hours per day, 34 hours per week, or 2 hours overtime in one day.1178 Children under 18 years are prohibited from working at night and are required to have a physical exam to determine whether they are apt for the particular job. Employers who hire children must maintain a child labor registry.1179 Hazardous or unhealthy work is prohibited for all minors under age 18, including such activities as cutting or sawing; work underground; work with explosives or toxic materials; in construction, mines, or quarries; at sea; or in bars, pool halls, and similar establishments.1180

Forced labor is prohibited, except in cases of natural disasters and as specified by law.1181 Military service is compulsory for all Salvadorans ages 18 to 30. With parental consent, children between 16 and 18 years may volunteer for military service.1182 The law prohibits trafficking in persons. Criminal penalties for trafficking range from 4 to 8 years of imprisonment, and may increase by 1 to 3 years if the victim is less than 18 years.1183 The law provides for penalties of 3 to 8 years of imprisonment for the inducement, facilitation, or promotion of sexual acts with a person under age 18.1184 Forced prostitution of a minor incurs penalties of 8 to 12 years in prison. Penalties of 6 to 12 years of imprisonment exist for the production or distribution of pornography involving minors.1185

Enforcement of child labor laws is the responsibility of the Ministry of Labor. The Ministry of Labor has 158 labor inspectors, including 24 who work specifically on child labor issues.1186 In the first three months of 2007, the Labor Ministry conducted 11 inspections for child labor, resulting in the removal of 81 children. However, from March through October, no inspections for child labor were conducted.1187 USDOS reports that inspectors focus on the formal sector, where child labor is uncommon, and that laws against child labor are infrequently enforced.1188 The National Committee Against Trafficking in Persons comprises 15 government agencies that are responsible for combating trafficking.1189

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

The Government of El Salvador has launched a National Plan for the Eradication of the Worst Forms of Child Labor (2006-2009), identifying the following as strategic areas of intervention: legal frameworks; institutional capacity; education, health care, recreation, culture, and sports; income generation; and communication and awareness raising.1190 The Child Labor Unit of the Ministry of Labor coordinated a Round Table against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and began detailing a strategic plan for all national institutions.1191 In March, the National Civilian Police presented a Procedural Manual to Combat the Sexual Commercial Exploitation of Children and Adolescents; in June, it initiated a campaign to raise awareness against sexual exploitation.1192

The Ministry of Education is operating after-school centers to mainstream children withdrawn from child labor into the education system.1193

The Government of El Salvador continues to collaborate on various USDOL-funded child labor projects implemented by ILO-IPEC. There is a USD 7.4 million project that supports El Salvador's National Timebound Program to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in fishing, sugar cane harvesting, commercial sexual exploitation, and garbage-dump scavenging, which entered its second phase in 2006. Phase II aims to withdraw 3,210 and prevent 8,808 children from exploitive child labor.1194 A USD 4 million Child Labor Education Initiative project, which also supported the National Timebound Program and ended in June 2007, withdrew 9,531 and prevented 26,175 children from exploitive labor through the provision of education services.1195

The Government also participates in regional projects funded by USDOL. These include a USD 8.8 million regional project implemented by ILO-IPEC that seeks to combat commercial sexual exploitation through a variety of activities including capacity building and legal reform. In addition, the project aims to withdraw 713 children and prevent 657 children from commercial sexual exploitation in the region.1196 Also, the Government is part of the 4-year USD 5.7 million USDOL-funded Child Labor Education Initiative implemented by CARE to strengthen the Government and civil society's capacity to combat child labor through education. It aims to withdraw or prevent 2,984 children from exploitive child labor in the region.1197 The activities in El Salvador for both of these regional projects focus on strengthening regional cooperation, legislation, policies, and institutions.1198

The Government of El Salvador also participated in a Phase II USD 2.6 million regional project and a Phase III USD 3 million regional project to eradicate child labor in Latin America, funded by the Government of Spain and implemented by ILO-IPEC.1199


1168 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 El Salvador, Constitution of the Republic of El Salvador, (1983), title 2, chapter 2, section 2, article 38 and section 3, article 56; available from http://pdba.georgetown.edu/Constitutions/ElSal/ElSal83.html. See also UNESCO Institute for Statistics, EFA Global Monitoring Report 2007: Strong Foundations, Paris, 2006, 256; available from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001477/147794E.pdf. See also U.S. Department of State, "El Salvador," 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/.

1169 Government of El Salvador, Plan Nacional 2006-2009 para la Erradicación de las Peores Formas de Trabajo Infantil, Comité Nacional para la Erradicación de las Peores Formas de Trabajo Infantil, March 2006, 32; available from http://www.oit.org.pe/ipec/documentos/plan_nacional_es.pdf. See also Government of El Salvador, Unidad Erradicación de la Peores Formas del Trabajo Infantil, [online] [cited December 13, 2007]; available from http://trabajoinfantil.mtps.gob.sv/default.asp?id=8&mnu=8.

1170 Government of El Salvador, Unidad Erradicación de la Peores Formas del Trabajo Infantil. See also Government of El Salvador, Plan Nacional, 32-35. See also U.S. Embassy – San Salvador official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, July 25, 2008.

1171 Human Rights Watch, Abuses Against Child Domestic Workers in El Salvador, Vol. 16, No. 1 (B), January 2004, 13; available from http://www.hrw.org/reports/2004/elsalvador0104/elsalvador0104.pdf.

1172 Government of El Salvador, Plan Nacional, 33.

1173 Ibid., 31-32.

1174 U.S. Department of State, "El Salvador," in Country Report on Human Rights Practices-2007, Washington, DC, March 11, 2008, section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/. See also U.S. Department of State, "El Salvador (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.

1175 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: El Salvador," section 5. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: El Salvador."

1176 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: El Salvador," section 5.

1177 Government of El Salvador, Código de Trabajo, (June 23, 1972), article 114; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/WEBTEXT/49592/65113/S95SLV01.htm#a104.

1178 Ibid., articles 114 and 116.

1179 Ibid., articles 116 and 117.

1180 Ibid., articles 105-108.

1181 Government of El Salvador, Constitution, title 2, chapter 1, section 1, article 9. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: El Salvador," section 6c.

1182 Government of El Salvador, Constitution, article 215. See also Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "El Salvador," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=833.

1183 Government of El Salvador, Código Penal, (April 26, 1997), article 367b. See also Government of El Salvador, Decreto No. 210, (November 25, 2003), article 24; available from http://www.oit.or.cr/ipec/encuentros/documentos/sv_decreto_reforma_esci.pdf.

1184 Government of El Salvador, Constitution, article 169. See also Government of El Salvador, Decreto No. 210, article 12. See also Government of El Salvador, Código Penal, article 169.

1185 Government of El Salvador, Decreto No. 210, articles 14 and 18. See also Government of El Salvador, Código Penal, articles 170 and 173.

1186 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: El Salvador," section 6d.

1187 U.S. Embassy – San Salvador, reporting, December 4, 2007.

1188 Ibid.

1189 U.S. Embassy – San Salvador, reporting, March 5, 2007.

1190 Government of El Salvador, Plan Nacional, 41-44. See also ILO-IPEC, Supporting the Time-bound Programme for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in El Salvador, Technical Progress Report, Geneva, September 30, 2006.

1191 ILO-IPEC, Supporting the Time-bound Programme for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in El Salvador, Technical Progress Report, Geneva, September 6, 2007, 14.

1192 U.S. Embassy – San Salvador, reporting, December 4, 2007.

1193 ILO-IPEC, El Salvador TBP, Technical Progress Report, 11-13.

1194 ILO-IPEC, Combating the Worst Forms of Child Labour in El Salvador 2002-2005, Project Document, Geneva, July 2001. See also ILO-IPEC, Supporting the Time-bound Programme for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in El Salvador – Phase II, Project Document, Geneva, September 30, 2006.

1195 ILO-IPEC, El Salvador Education Initiative, Technical Progress Report, Geneva, August 30, 2007, 18.

1196 ILO-IPEC, "Stop the Exploitation" ("Alto a la explotación") Contribution to the Prevention and Elimination of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic, Project Document, RLA/02/P51-05/52/USA, San Jose, 2002, 2005, 1 and 63. See also ILO-IPEC, Contribution to the Prevention and Elimination of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic, Project Addendum, Geneva, September 2005, 1 and 22.

1197 CARE International, Primero Aprendo Project: Combating Exploitive Child Labor through Education in Central America and the Dominican Republic, Project Revision, April 19, 2007, 1-2. See also CARE International, Primero Aprendo Project: Combating Exploitive Child Labor through Education in Central America and the Dominican Republic, Project Revision, September 29, 2006.

1198 CARE International, Primero Aprendo Project: Combating Exploitive Child Labor through Education in Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua) and the Dominican Republic, Project Document, 2004, 5. See also ILO-IPEC, Elimination of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, Project Addendum, 22-23.

1199 ILO-IPEC Geneva official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, December 12, 2007.

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