Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 July 2014, 09:50 GMT

2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Honduras

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 29 August 2006
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Honduras, 29 August 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d748f29.html [accessed 23 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 
Ratified Convention 182 
ILO-IPEC Member
National Plan for Children 
National Child Labor Action Plan 
Sector Action Plan 

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

An estimated 9.2 percent of children ages 5 to 14 years were counted as working in Honduras in 2002. Approximately 13.3 percent of all boys ages 5 to 14 years were working compared to 5.0 percent of girls in the same age group. The majority of working children were found in the agricultural sector (59.1 percent), followed by services (28.5 percent), and manufacturing (10.9 percent).2259 Children also work as domestic servants.2260 Many children work for their own families out of economic necessity in the informal sector and in rural areas.2261 Child labor is one of many problems associated with poverty. In 1999, the most recent year for which data are available, 20.7 percent of the population in Honduras were living on less than USD 1 a day.2262

According to the Government of Honduras, the worst forms of child labor that exist in the country include: commercial sexual exploitation (particularly in major cities and the tourist sector along the North Coast); fireworks manufacturing (in Copán); work in garbage dumps (in the two large cities of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula); mining and dirt extraction (South and East regions); the sale and handling of pesticides (Copán, La Ceiba, and Choluteca); construction; and some forms of agricultural work.2263 Children are also involved in the harvesting of sugar cane,2264 and have been involved in the sale of drugs in Olancho and Comayagua.2265

There is evidence of child prostitution in Honduras, particularly in tourist and border areas.2266 Honduras is a source and transit country for girls trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation. Honduran girls are trafficked internally and to Belize, Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States for the purpose of prostitution. Children are trafficked to Canada for prostitution and reportedly for the sale of drugs.2267

Education is free and compulsory in Honduras until the age of 13.2268 In 2001, the gross primary enrollment rate was 105.8 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 87.5 percent.2269 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 2002, 80.1 percent of children ages 5 to 14 years were attending school.2270 In May 2004, the Honduran National Institute of Statistics household survey showed that the average number of years of schooling in Honduras was 5.6 years for women, and 5.3 years for men.2271 The May 2004 survey also estimated that 125,000 children ages 7 to 12 years did not receive an education.2272 Obstacles such as poor school infrastructure, enrollment fees, school uniform costs, transportation costs, poor quality of education, teacher absenteeism, and lack of vocational education prevent some children from obtaining educational services.2273

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Code and the Constitution set the minimum age for employment at 16 years.2274 According to the Labor Code and the Children's Code, children ages 14 to 15 years are permitted to work with parental consent and Ministry of Labor permission.2275 The Children's Code prohibits a child younger than 14 years of age from working, even with parental permission.2276 If a child 14 to 15 years is hired, an employer must certify that he or she has finished, or is finishing, compulsory schooling.2277 The Children's Code establishes fines as well as prison sentences of 3 to 5 years for individuals who allow or oblige children to work illegally. Fines double if the firm is a repeat offender.2278 Children under the age of 16 are prohibited from working at night and in clubs, theaters, circuses, cafes, bars, in establishments that serve alcoholic beverages, or in jobs that have been determined to be unhealthy or dangerous.2279 Hazardous work as defined by Honduran law includes standing on high scaffolding, exposure to toxic substances, diving underwater, working in tunnels or underground, working with wood cutting machines, ovens, smelters, or heavy presses, and exposure to vehicular traffic, high voltage electrical currents, and garbage.2280 Children less than 17 years of age may only work 6 hours per day and for a total of 30 hours per week.2281

The worst forms of child labor may be prosecuted under different statutes in Honduras. The Constitution prohibits forced labor, including by children.2282 Honduran law requires recruits to be 18 years old in order to voluntarily enlist in the armed forces. There is no compulsory conscription, nor are there reports of minors under 18 years of age enlisting in the military.2283 The Children's Code protects children 18 years and younger against sexual exploitation, child prostitution, and child pornography, and mandates 3 to 5 years of imprisonment for violators.2284 The Penal Code punishes those who promote or facilitate child prostitution with 5 to 8 years of imprisonment and fines.2285 Honduran law also includes provisions that prohibit trafficking in persons, which may be punished by 6 to 9 years of imprisonment.2286 However, according to the U.S. Department of State, prosecution and law enforcement efforts are weak due to inadequate police and court systems, corruption, and lack of resources.2287 Since 1999, the Government of Honduras has submitted to the ILO a list or an equivalent document identifying the types of work that it has determined are harmful to the health, safety or morals of children under Convention 182 or Convention 138.2288

The Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MOLSS) is responsible for conducting child labor inspections.2289 The country's 119 labor inspectors report violations for administrative action.2290 The Labor Code is more effectively enforced in urban areas and large-scale manufacturing and services,2291 although violations occur often in rural areas or at small companies.2292 The ministry operates a regional office and conducts inspections on lobster boats in the Mosquitia area, where boat captains illegally employ boy divers. The MOLSS conducts special inspections in the melon and sugar cane sectors to uncover incidences of child labor.2293

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

The Government of Honduras is implementing a National Plan of Action to Eradicate Child Labor.2294 The issue of child labor has also been incorporated into the country's Poverty Eradication Plan.2295

The Government of Honduras, through its National Commission for the Gradual and Progressive Eradication of Child Labor, is currently participating in a number of ILOIPEC implemented projects. These include two USDOL-funded regional projects aimed at combating child labor in commercial agriculture2296 and the commercial sexual exploitation of children.2297 With funding from donors including Spain, the Netherlands, and Italy, ILO-IPEC is carrying out projects to combat child labor in various sectors, including exploitative domestic work and garbage dump scavenging.2298 In addition, the Government of Honduras is participating in a USD 5.5 million USDOL-funded regional project implemented by CARE to combat child labor through education.2299

The National Commission against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children is responsible for institutional coordination of the issue.2300 In conjunction with UNICEF, the Government of Honduras is implementing a public information campaign against trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, and has worked to raise awareness of children's rights and risks associated with illegal migration.2301

The government has initiated several programs in order to improve children's access to quality basic education. The Ministry of Education makes available radio and long distance learning for children in rural areas with few schools and provides disadvantaged families with stipends for school supplies. Regional committees of child defense volunteers encourage parents to send children to school.2302 With support from the Education for All Fast Track Initiative, the Government of Honduras created an Education Development Plan with strategies to improve the quality of primary education, teaching skills, pre-primary education, bilingual education, and rural school networks.2303 In 2005, Honduras was the first country in the Latin America and Caribbean region to sign a compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation.2304 The World Bank is providing Poverty Reduction Technical Support in Honduras through 2008.2305 The project supports community-based school management, including local education development associations.2306


2259 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, October 7, 2005. Reliable data on the worst forms of child labor are especially difficult to collect given the often hidden or illegal nature of the worst forms, such as the use of children in the illegal drug trade, prostitution, pornography, and trafficking. As a result, statistics and information on children's work in general are reported in this section. Such statistics and information may or may not include the worst forms of child labor. For more information on the definition of working children and other indicators used in this report, please see the "Data Sources and Definitions" section of this report.

2260 FUNPADEM, Pobreza y Subsistencia: Trabajo Infantil y Adolescente en los Departamentos de Cortes, Copan, y Santa Barbara, San José, Costa Rica, 2001, 56-60. In June 2004, ILO-IPEC and the National Institute of Statistics estimated that there are more than 20,000 girls employed as domestic servants in Honduras. See U.S. Embassy – Tegucigalpa, reporting, August 25, 2004.

2261 Many children working for their families do not receive compensation. See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Honduras, Washington, DC, February 28, 2005, Section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41765.htm.

2262 World Bank, World Development Indicators 2005 [CD-ROM], Washington, DC, 2005.

2263 National Commission for the Eradication of Child Labor, Plan de Acción Nacional Para la Erradicación Gradual y Progresiva del Trabajo Infantil en Honduras, Tegucigalpa, December 2001, 97-98.

2264 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Honduras, Section 6d.

2265 National Commission for the Eradication of Child Labor, Plan de Acción Nacional, 97. See also National Commission for the Eradication of Child Labor, Diagnóstico y Plan Nacional Para La Erradicación Gradual y Progresiva del Trabajo Infantil, Tegucigalpa, 2000, 17.

2266 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Honduras, Section 5. See also National Commission for the Eradication of Child Labor, Diagnóstico y Plan Nacional Para La Erradicación de Trabajo Infantil, 17.

2267 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Honduras, Section 5.

2268 Constitución de la República de Honduras, 1982, Capitulo 8, Articulo 171; available from http://www.georgetown.edu/pdba/Constitutions/Honduras/hond82.html. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Honduras, Section 5. The average age for finishing primary school is 14 years. See also Government of Honduras, Temas e Indicadores Sobre Trabajo Infantil en Honduras, September 2001, 8.

2269 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, http://wtats.uis.unesco.org/TableViewer/tableView.aspx?ReportId=51 (Gross and Net Enrollment Ratios, Primary; accessed December 2005). For an explanation of gross primary enrollment rates that are greater than 100 percent, please see the definition of gross primary enrollment rates in the "Data Sources and Definitions" section of this report.

2270 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

2271 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Honduras, Section 5.

2272 Ibid.

2273 ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Elimination of Child Labor in the Melon Plantations in Honduras, project document, October 2000, 2. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Honduras, Section 5.

2274 Codigo de Trabajo de la Republica de Honduras y sus reformas, 1959, Decreto No. 189, Articulos 128-129; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/WEBTEXT/29076/64849/S59HND01.htm. See also Constitución de la República de Honduras, 1982, Capitulo 5, Articulo 128, Numero 7.

2275 Codigo de Trabajo, Articulos 133 and 128. See also Government of Honduras, Código de la Niñez y de la Adolescencia, 1996, Articulo 119. See also Constitución de la República de Honduras, 1982, Capitulo 5, Articulo 128, Numero 7. See also U.S. Embassy – Tegucigalpa, reporting, August 25, 2004.

2276 Código de la Niñez y de la Adolescencia, 1996, Articulos 119 and 120.

2277 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Honduras, Section 6d. See Codigo de Trabajo, Articulo 133.

2278 U.S. Embassy – Tegucigalpa, reporting, August 27, 2003. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Honduras, Section 6d.

2279 Codigo de Trabajo, Articulo 129.

2280 U.S. Embassy – Tegucigalpa, reporting, August 25, 2004.

2281 Constitución de la República de Honduras, 1982, Capitulo 5, Articulo 128, Numero 7.

2282 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Honduras, Section 6c.

2283 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Honduras," in Global Report 2004; available from http://www.child soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=830.

2284 Código de la Niñez y de la Adolescencia, 1996, Articulos 134 and 141.

2285 Interpol, Legislation of Interpol member states on sexual offences against children: Honduras, [database online] 2004 [cited June 22, 2005]; available from http://www.interpol.int/Public/Children/SexualAbuse/NationalLaws/csaHonduras.asp.

2286 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Honduras, Section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – Tegucigalpa, reporting, August 27, 2003.

2287 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Honduras, Section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – Tegucigalpa, reporting, August 25, 2004.

2288 ILO-IPEC official, e-mail communication to USDOL official, November 14, 2005.

2289 Secretary of Labor and Social Security, Informe Trabajo Infantil en Honduras, June 2000.

2290 U.S. Department of State official, electronic correspondence to USDOL official, May 20, 2005.

2291 U.S. Embassy – Tegucigalpa, reporting, August 25, 2004.

2292 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Honduras, Section 6d.

2293 U.S. Embassy – Tegucigalpa, reporting, August 25, 2004.

2294 The first phase of the plan (2001-2006) is focusing on the worst forms of child labor. See National Commission for the Eradication of Child Labor, Plan de Acción Nacional.

2295 ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Elimination of Child Labor in the Melon Plantations in Honduras, technical progress report, March 2005, 3.

2296 The first phase of this project aims to combat child labor in the melon sector. See ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Elimination of Child Labor in Melons, project document. See also ILO-IPEC, Prevention and progressive elimination of child labor in agriculture in Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic (Phase II), project document, September 30, 2003.

2297 In Honduras, this project focuses primarily on regional collaboration, awareness raising, institutional capacity building, and coordination. See ILO-IPEC, 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/USA, Geneva, 2002, 26-28.

2298 U.S. Embassy – Tegucigalpa, reporting, August 25, 2004. See also ILO-IPEC Sub-regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, Ficha Pais: Honduras, May 2005; available from http://www.oit.org.pe/ipec/documentos/ficha_pais_mayo_2005_honduras.doc. See also ILO-IPEC, IPEC Projects – Child Domestic Labour, [online]; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/themes/domestic/download/cdl_project_0504.pdf.

2299 CARE, APRENDO Project: Combating Exploitive Child Labor Through Education in Central America and the Dominican Republic, Project Document, 2004.

2300 ILO-IPEC, Stop the Exploitation: Contribution to the prevention and elimination of commercial sexual exploitation of children in Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic, technical progress report, March 2005, 17.

2301 U.S. Embassy – Tegucigalpa Labor Attaché, electronic communication to USDOL official, February 19, 2004.

2302 U.S. Embassy – Tegucigalpa, reporting, August 25, 2004.

2303 World Bank, Education for All – Fast Track Initiative Status Report, FTI Secretariat, November 10-12, 2004, 10; available from http://www1.worldbank.org/education/efafti/documents/Brasilia/status_report_dec6.pdf.

2304 Millenium Challenge Corporation, Millenium Challenge Corporation Signs $215 Million Compact with Honduras, [online press release] June 13, 2005 [cited November 3, 2005]; available from http://www.mca.gov/public_affairs/press_releases/pr_061305.shtml.

2305 World Bank, Poverty Reduction Support Technical Assistance, [online] June 22, 2005 [cited June 22, 2005]; available from http://web.worldbank.org/external/default/main?pagePK=64027221&piPK=64027220&theSitePK=295071&menuPK=295103&P rojectid=P083851.

2306 World Bank, Poverty Reduction Support Technical Assistance Project, project appraisal document, June 3, 2004, 44; available from http://wwwwds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2004/06/04/000160016_20040604170713/Rendered/PDF/290650H N.pdf.

Search Refworld

Countries