Last Updated: Thursday, 24 April 2014, 11:39 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Ethiopia

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 - Ethiopia, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa46f35.html [accessed 25 April 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 Labor1250
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2005:50.1
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2005:58.1
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2005:41.6
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%), 2005:
     – Agriculture95.2
     – Manufacturing1.3
     – Services3.4
     – Other0.2
Minimum age for work:14
Compulsory education age:Not Compulsory
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2006:98
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2006:66
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2005:29.2
Survival rate to grade 5 (%):
ILO-IPEC participating country:Associated
* Must pay for miscellaneous school expenses

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In Ethiopia, most children work for their families without pay.1251 The number of working children is higher in the Amhara, Oromiya, Southern Nation, Nationalities and Peoples (SNNPR), and Tigray regions, compared with other regions.1252 In both rural and urban areas, children often begin working at young ages, with many starting work at age 5.1253 In rural areas, children work primarily in agriculture with their families,1254 commercial agriculture, and domestic service.1255 Children in rural areas, especially boys, engage in activities such as cattle herding, petty trading, plowing, harvesting, and weeding, while other children, mostly girls, collect firewood and water.1256

In urban areas, many children, including orphans, work in domestic service.1257 Child domestics work long hours, which may prevent them from attending school regularly. Many feel unable to quit their jobs and fear physical, verbal, and sexual abuse from their employers while performing their work.1258 Children in urban areas also work in construction, manufacturing,1259 shoe shining, tailoring, portering, directing customers into taxis, trading, and animal herding. Girls also work in bars and hotels.1260 The Government estimates that there are between 150,000 and 200,000 street children in the country, while UNICEF places this figure at 600,000. Many of these children live and work on the streets of Addis Ababa, and some work in the informal sector in order to survive.1261

The commercial sexual exploitation of children is on the rise in Ethiopia, especially in urban areas.1262 Young girls, some as young as age 11, have reportedly been recruited to work in brothels, where they are sought by customers who believe them to be free of sexually transmitted infections. Girls are also exploited in prostitution at hotels, bars, rural truck stops, and in resort towns.1263 Reports indicate that some young girls have been forced into prostitution by their family members, while other girls have been forcibly sexually exploited by their teachers in exchange for favors such as better grades.1264

Within Ethiopia, children are trafficked from rural areas to urban areas, including from Oromiya and SNNPR to other regions for forced or bonded labor in domestic service. Most children are trafficked for domestic service, commercial sexual exploitation, and for forced labor in activities such as weaving and begging.1265

In 2007, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA) and UNICEF published the National Study on Child Trafficking in Ethiopia, which focused on child trafficking within the country. The study found that children are most often trafficked by family members, friends, or members of their communities, including priests, in some cases.1266

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years.1267 The law forbids employers to employ "young workers," defined as children 14 to 18 years, when the nature of the job or the conditions under which it is carried out might endanger the life or health of a child. Prohibited activities include transporting goods by air, land, or water; working with electric power generation plants; and performing underground work.1268 Young workers are prohibited from working more than 7 hours per day, or between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., during weekly rest days, and on public holidays.1269

The law states that children have the right to be protected against exploitive practices and work conditions and should not engage in employment that could threaten their health, education, or well-being.1270 The law prohibits all forms of human trafficking for forced labor and sexual exploitation.1271 The trafficking of women and children carries a penalty of 5 to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine.1272 The law also prohibits the compulsory or forced labor of children. The minimum age for conscription and voluntary recruitment into the military is 18 years.1273

According to USDOS, the Government's efforts to enforce child labor laws have not been effective.1274

In 2007, the police received reports of nearly 700 cases of child trafficking. Of the 50 cases that were referred for prosecution, 18 went to trial.1275 One trafficker who had forced 2 children to engage in domestic service was convicted and sentenced to a fine and 13 years in prison. Police also intercepted at least 10 would-be traffickers attempting to sell children to farmers in Oromiya.1276

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

The Government of Ethiopia is currently implementing its National Plan of Action on Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (2006-2010). The National Plan of Action outlines targets for reducing commercial sexual exploitation and addresses issues related to the prevention, protection, and recovery of children from sexual exploitation.1277

The Government of Ethiopia continues to participate in the 4-year, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia Together (KURET) project, funded by USDOL at USD 14.5 million and World Vision at 5.8 million. Implemented by World Vision, in partnership with the International Rescue Committee and the Academy for Educational Development, the KURET project aims to withdraw or prevent a total of 30,600 children from exploitive labor in HIV/AIDS-affected areas of these four countries through the provision of educational services.1278 In 2007, KURET worked with local districts ("woredas") to incorporate child labor activities into their workplans.1279 The Government of Ethiopia also participated in the Community Based Innovations to Reduce Child Labor through Education (CIRCLE) global project, funded by USDOL at USD 8.1 million and USAID at USD 500,000. Implemented by Winrock International and various community-based organizations, the project has withdrawn and prevented a total of 24,194 children from exploitive child labor through the provision of educational opportunities in 23 countries, including Ethiopia.1280

NGOs, such as the Forum on Street Children-Ethiopia, provided assistance to children engaged in commercial sexual exploitation including shelter; educational and employment services; and family reunification services. They also worked with the Government to develop policy and program objectives.1281

The Government continues to work with the UN and the IOM on the implementation of a campaign to combat child trafficking.1282 In Addis Ababa police stations, Child Protection Units rescued children who had been trafficked and referred them to the IOM and NGOs for care pending their return home. The Child Protection Units also collected data on rescued children to facilitate their reunification with their families, and the local police and administrators helped repatriate these children to their home regions.1283 Various government officials, including judges, law enforcement officers, and magistrates received counter-trafficking training by IOM in 2007.1284 The Government participates in a USAID-funded USD 345,000 project implemented by the IOM and Good Samaritan Association to expand return and reintegration activities for trafficking victims and to build government capacity to combat trafficking.1285 A USAID-funded center in Addis Ababa provides shelter, medical care, counseling, and reintegration assistance to girls victimized by trafficking.1286


1250 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 Ethiopia, Labour Proclamation (January 20, 1993), chapter II., section 89, article 2; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/WEBTEXT/31977/64870/E93ETH10.htm. See also UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Third Periodic Report of States Parties Due in 2003: Ethiopia, CRC/C/129/Add.8, prepared by Government of Ethiopia, pursuant to Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, April 27, 2005, para 183; available from http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/512c282017f34921c12570b2003f5410?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: Ethiopia, CRC/C/ETH/CO/3, Geneva, November 1, 2006, section 6, item 63; available from http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/426c8f0ecdb895f1c125724300541453?Opendocument. See also UNGEI, The School Fee Abolition Initiative (SFAI), [online] 2006 [cited December 14, 2007]; available from http://www.ungei.org/infobycountry/247_712.html. See also Andrew Heavens, In Ethiopia, Better Education for a Better Future, UNICEF, June 15, 2006; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/ethiopia_34570.html?q=printme.

1251 Lorenzo Guarcello, Scott Lyon, and Furio Camillo Rosati, The Twin Challenges of Child Labor and Youth Employment in Ethiopia, Understanding Children's Work Rome, July 2006, 9; available from http://www.ucwproject.org/pdf/publications/Youthethiopia.pdf.

1252 Tassew Woldehanna et al., Child Labour, Gender Inequality and Rural/Urban Disparities: How Can Ethiopia's National Development Strategies be Revised to Address Negative Spill-over Impacts on Child Education and Wellbeing?, Working Paper No. 20, London, 2005, 15-17; available from http://www.savethechildren.org/uk/younglives/data/publications/pdfs/WP20Labour.pdf [hard copy on file].

1253 Ibid. See also Lorenzo Guarcello, Scott Lyon, and Furio Camillo Rosati, The Twin Challenges of Child Labor and Youth Employment in Ethiopia, 6.

1254 Lorenzo Guarcello, Scott Lyon, and Furio C Rosati, Child Labor and Youth Employment: Ethiopia Country Study, The Understanding Children's Work Project, Rome, July 2006.

1255 U.S. Department of State, "Ethiopia," 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.

1256 Tassew Woldehanna et al., Child Labour, Gender Inequality, and Rural/Urban Disparities: Ethiopia, 15-17, 30. See also Sonia Bhalotra, Child Labour in Africa, OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, Paris: OECD, April 28, 2003, 48-49; available from http://www.oecd.org/cataoecd/28/21/2955692.pdf. See also Lorenzo Guarcello, Scott Lyon, and Furio Camillo Rosati, The Twin Challenges of Child Labor and Youth Employment in Ethiopia, 6-7.

1257 Abiy Kifle, Ethiopia – Child Domestic Workers in Addis Ababa: A Rapid Assessment, Geneva: ILO-IPEC, July 2002, 18-19, 22, 55; available from http://www.ilo.org/iloroot/docstore/ipec/prod/eng/2002_ra_38_et_domestic_en.pdf. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Ethiopia: Child Domestic Work Rampant in Addis Ababa", IRINnews.org, [online], June 16, 2004; available from http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=50255.

1258 Kifle, Rapid Assessment of Child Domestic Workers in Addis Ababa, 18-19, 22. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Ethiopia," section 6d.

1259 Lorenzo Guarcello, Scott Lyon, and Furio Camillo Rosati, The Twin Challenges of Child Labor and Youth Employment in Ethiopia, 11.

1260 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Ethiopia," section 6d.

1261 Ibid., section 5.

1262 Ibid., sections 5 and 6d. See also Addis Ababa City Administrative Social and NGO Affairs Office, Save the Children Denmark, and ANPPCAN-Ethiopia Chapter, Study on the Worst Forms of Child Labour With Special Focus on Child Prostitution in Addis Ababa, Addis Ababa, June 2003; available from http://www.redbarnet.dk/Files/Filer/sexuelt_misbrug/ChildProstitutionStudy.doc. See also ECPAT International CSEC Database, Ethiopia, accessed December 17, 2007; available from http://www.ecpat.net.

1263 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Ethiopia," sections 5 and 6d.

1264 ECPAT, Global Monitoring Report on the Status of Action Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children: Ethiopia, Bangkok, 2007, 12, [online]; available from http://www.ecpat.net/eng/A4A_2005/PDF/AF/Global_Monitoring_Report-ETHIOPIA.pdf.

1265 Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Ethiopia: Campaign Launched Against Child Trafficking", IRINnews.org, [previously online], October 20, 2005 [cited July 7, 2006]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=49655 [hard copy on file]. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Ethiopia," sections 5 and 6d.

1266 U.S. Embassy – Addis Ababa, reporting, March 4, 2008 para 7H.

1267 Government of Ethiopia, Labour Proclamation, chapter II., section 89, article 1.

1268 Ibid., chapter II., section 89, articles 1, 3, and 4.

1269 Ibid., chapter II., sections 90 and 91.

1270 Government of Ethiopia, The Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, article 36; available from http://www.ethiopianembassy.org/constitution.pdf.

1271 U.S. Department of State, "Ethiopia (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/.

1272 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Ethiopia," sections 5 and 6c.

1273 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Ethiopia." In Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/library/global-reports.

1274 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Ethiopia," section 6d.

1275 U.S. Embassy – Addis Ababa, reporting, March 4, 2008, para 6c.

1276 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Ethiopia."

1277 ECPAT, Global Monitoring Report on Status of Anti-CSEC Efforts: Ethiopia, 14-15.

1278 World Vision, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia Together (KURET) Initiative, Project Document, July 18, 2005, i, 2, and 9.

1279 World Vision, KURET (Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia Together) Initiative, Technical Progress Report, September 30, 2007, 10.

1280 U.S. Department of Labor, Community Based Innovations to Combat Child Labor through Education I and II (CIRCLE I and II), Project Summary, 2008. See also Winrock International, Project Fact Sheet: Reducing Child Labor through Education (CIRCLE 1), [online] [cited December 17, 2007]; available from http://www.winrock.org/fact/facts.asp?CC=5411&bu=.

1281 ECPAT International, Annual Report 2004-2005, Bangkok; available from http://www.ecpat.net/eng/Ecpat_inter/annual_report/index.asp. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Ethiopia," section 5.

1282 Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Ethiopia: Campaign Against Child Trafficking".

1283 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Ethiopia."

1284 U.S. Embassy – Addis Ababa, reporting, March 4, 2008, para 7H.

1285 U.S. Department of State, United States Government Funds Obligated in FY2005 for Anti-Trafficking in Persons Projects, [online] [cited December 17, 2007]; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/rpt/78464.htm..

1286 Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Ethiopia: Centre for Helping Victims of Trafficking Opens", IRINnews.org, [previously online], June 29, 2004; available from http://www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=41909 [hard copy on file]. See also ECPAT International, The First-ever Centre to Help Victims of Trafficking Opened in the Ethiopian Capital, Addis Ababa, on Tuesday, Addis Ababa, June 29, 2004; available from http://www.ecpat.net/eng/Ecpat_inter/IRC/tmpNews.asp?SCID=1446.

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