Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 July 2014, 13:18 GMT

2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Mozambique

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 - Mozambique, 29 August 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d748fd42.html [accessed 30 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     6/16/2003
Ratified Convention 182     6/16/2003
ILO-IPEC Member 
National Plan for Children 
National Child Labor Action Plan
Sector Action Plan 

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Statistics on the number of working children under age 15 in Mozambique are unavailable.3222 A joint Ministry of Labor and UNICEF rapid assessment survey of children under 18 working in selected areas estimated that approximately 50 percent of working children begin to work before the age of 12.3223 Poverty, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, lack of employment for adults, and lack of education opportunities are among the many factors that pushed children to work at an early age.3224

Children work on family farms and in informal work including guarding cars, collecting scrap metal, and selling goods in the streets.3225 Children in the informal sector work selling goods on the street and collecting fares on buses.3226 In rural areas, they work on commercial farms sometimes alongside their parents, often picking cotton or tea.3227 An increasing number of children, mostly girls, work as domestic servants.3228 In some cases, children are forced to work in order to settle family debts.3229 Child labor is one of many problems associated with poverty. In 1996, the most recent year for which data is available, 37.9 percent of the population in Mozambique were living on less than USD 1 a day.3230

The number of children in prostitution is growing in both urban and rural regions, particularly in Maputo, Nampula, Beira, and along key transportation routes.3231 Many child victims of commercial sexual exploitation have been infected with HIV/AIDS.3232 Street children have been reported to suffer from police beatings and sexual abuse.3233 However, in 2004, the most recent date for which such information is available, no incidents were reported.3234 Mozambique is a source country for child trafficking. Reliable numbers on the extent of the problem are not available, but a 2003 study reported that 1,000 women and children were trafficked from Mozambique to South Africa in 2002 to work as prostitutes, in restaurants, and on South African farms.3235

Education is compulsory and free through the age of 12 years, but matriculation fees are charged and are a burden for many families.3236 Families below the poverty line can obtain a certificate waiving the fee.3237 Enforcement of compulsory education laws is inconsistent, because of the lack of resources and the scarcity of schools in the upper grades.3238

In 2002, the gross primary enrollment rate was 103 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 55 percent.3239 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 1996, 51.7 percent of children ages 7 to 14 years were attending school.3240 As of 2001, 49 percent of children who started primary school were likely to reach grade 5.3241 At the end of 2003 an estimated 370,000 children in Mozambique were AIDS orphans.3242 It is estimated that HIV/AIDS could lead to a decline in teacher numbers by 2010.3243

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

Law 8/98 sets the minimum age for employment at 15 years. In exceptional cases, the law allows children between the ages of 12 and 15 to work with the joint approval of the Ministries of Labor, Health, and Education.3244 The Law restricts the conditions under which minors between the ages of 15 and 18 may work, limits the number of hours they can work, and establishes training, education, and medical exam requirements.3245 Children between the ages of 15 and 18 are prohibited from being employed in unhealthy or dangerous occupations or occupations requiring significant physical effort, as determined by the Ministry of Labor.3246 According to Article 79 of the Labor Law, employers are required to provide children between 12 and 15 with vocational training and offer age appropriate work conditions.3247

The worst forms of child labor may be prosecuted under different statutes in Mozambique. The Constitution prohibits forced labor, except in the context of penal law.3248 The age for conscription and voluntary recruitment into the military is 18 years.3249 In times of war, however, the minimum age for military conscription may be changed.3250

The Penal Code prohibits the offering or procuring of prostitution of any form, including that of children.3251 In May 1999, the National Assembly passed a law prohibiting the access of minors to bars and clubs in an effort to address the problem of child prostitution.3252 Some provisions of the Penal Code protect minors against exploitation, incitement, or compulsion to engage in illegal sexual practices.3253 There is no law against trafficking, but some police have been trained on how to recognize and investigate trafficking cases.3254 Three pilot programs have been set up in police stations in the provinces to assist child trafficking victims.3255

The Ministry of Labor has the authority to enforce and regulate child labor laws in both the formal and informal sectors.3256 Labor inspectors may obtain court orders and use the police to enforce compliance with child labor legislation.3257 Child labor inspectors have not received specialized training. The police are responsible for investigating complaints relating to child labor offences punishable under the Penal Code.3258 According to the U.S. Department of State, both the Labor Inspectorate and police lack adequate staff, funds, and training to investigate child labor cases, especially outside the capital.3259 In theory, violators of child labor laws would be subject to fines ranging from 1 to 10 times the minimum wage.3260 The Government of Mozambique in 2003 launched a review of its existing laws regarding children for the purpose of undertaking legal reforms in areas including child labor, child trafficking, child prostitution, and child sexual abuse.3261 By the end of 2005, the government was still in the midst of drafting a comprehensive child protection law.3262

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

The Government of Mozambique is collaborating with UNICEF and ILO-IPEC to implement a plan of action which calls for the prevention of child labor and for the protection and rehabilitation of child workers.3263

Government policies to assist the poor and most vulnerable, such as child laborers, include its Poverty Alleviation Action Plan, and a multi-sectoral approach to the HIV/AIDS epidemic,3264 which often forces children to drop out of school to support their families.3265 The government's poverty reduction strategy includes investment in education.3266 The Ministry for Women and the Co-ordination of Social Action established a multi-sectoral coordination body in support of orphans and vulnerable children.3267

The government fights child prostitution and sexual abuse by disseminating pamphlets and flyers and issuing public service announcements.3268 The government has trained some police officials about child prostitution and pornography and initiated a rehabilitation program for children in prostitution by providing education referrals and training opportunities.3269 The Ministry of Women and Social Action Coordination is strengthening its efforts to increase the birth registration of children, protect them against abuse, and enhance their access to education.3270 The government has also launched a program to enhance child protection laws and to enact child trafficking laws.3271 The Ministry of Women and Social Action has provided provincial hospitals with staff trained to assist victims of trafficking.3272 The government participates in the Campaign against Trafficking in Children with a number of public and religious personalities and is establishing an assistance center to aid repatriated victims of child trafficking near the border post of Ressano Garcia.3273

The government is revising the national Strategic Plan for Education (1999-2003). The country's Poverty Reduction Strategy 2001-2005 seeks to increases school enrollment by raising the educational budget allocation from 2.4 to 4.5 percent.3274 The Ministry of Education has developed a strategy to reduce the gender gap between boys and girls in terms of access and retention.3275 The ministry also aims to improve school quality through teacher training and improved materials, and to build capacity for contingency planning in response to emergencies.3276 As a means to increase access and reduce the drop out rate, the government has introduced a reformed basic education curriculum which is better adapted to community and regional economic development needs.3277 The government is also working with international donors to expand the primary school network.3278

In addition, the government operates a scholarship program to cover the costs of school materials and fees for children, with a special focus on girls and children whose parents have died of HIV/AIDS.3279 Mozambique also receives funds and agricultural commodities from the United States to support nutritious school meals for children.3280


3222 This statistic is not available from the data sources that are used in this report. Please see the "Data Sources and Definitions" section for information about sources used. 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 section "Data Sources and Definitions."

3223 Government of Mozambique, Ministry of Labor, and UNICEF, Child Labour Rapid Assessment: Mozambique (Part I), Geneva, 1999/2000, 36.

3224 U.S. Embassy – Maputo, reporting, October 13, 2004. UNICEF, Latest News, December 1, 2003 [cited May 26, 2004]; available from http://www.unicef.org/mozambique/late_news.htm.

3225 Section 6d., U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Mozambique, February 28, 2005; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41617.htm. See also Government of Mozambique, Labor, and UNICEF, Child Labour Rapid Assessment: Mozambique (Part I), 54. In one sample of working children, over 40 percent of children worked as traders and hawkers, see UNICEF, Child Workers in the Shadow of AIDS, 58.

3226 Child Labour News Service Update, Union Puts Child Labor in Mozambique Under Spotlight, February 2, 2002 [cited May 24, 2004]; available from http://www.sweatshopwatch.org/swatch/headlines/2002/childlabour_feb02.html.

3227 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Mozambique, Section 6d. See also Government of Mozambique, Labor, and UNICEF, Child Labour Rapid Assessment: Mozambique (Part I), 61-76.

3228 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Mozambique, Section 6d. See also Government of Mozambique, Labor, and UNICEF, Child Labour Rapid Assessment: Mozambique (Part I), 47.

3229 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Mozambique, Section 6c.

3230 World Bank, World Development Indicators 2005 [CD-ROM], Washington, DC, 2005.

3231 Ibid., Section 5.

3232 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2002: Mozambique, Washington, D.C., March 31 2003, Section 6f; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2002/18217.htm. Some young prostitutes in Mozambique choose to have unprotected sex to increase their income, see HIVdent, Child Laborers at Risk for AIDS, July 25, 2001 [cited May 24, 2004]; available from http://www.hivdent.org/pediatrics/pedclarfa072001.htm. See also chapter on Mozambique in UNICEF, Child Workers in the Shadow of AIDS, 49-60.

3233 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Mozambique, Section 5.

3234 Ibid.

3235 Ibid., Section 6f. See also ECPAT International, Mozambique, [database online] January 6, 2004 [cited September 2, 2004]; available from http://www.ecpat.net/eng/Ecpat_inter/projects/monitoring/online_database/index.asp. See International Organization for Migration, The Trafficking of Women and Children in the Southern Africa Region. Presentation of Research Findings, March 24, 2003, 1. See also U.S. Embassy – Maputo, reporting, October 13, 2004.

3236 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Mozambique, Section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – Maputo, reporting, October 13, 2004.

3237 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Mozambique, Section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – Maputo, reporting, October 13, 2004.

3238 In the 1990s almost half of Mozambique's 3,200 primary schools were destroyed, and learning materials were in short supply. See UNICEF, Child Workers in the Shadow of AIDS, 55.

3239 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, http://stats.uis.unesco.org/TableViewer/tableView.aspx?ReportId=51 (Gross and Net Enrolment 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.

3240 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

3241 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, http://stats.uis.unesco.org/TableViewer/tableView.aspx?ReportId=55 (School life expectancy, % of repeaters, survival rates; accessed December 2005).

3242 UNICEF, Latest News, December 1, 2003.

3243 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Summary Record of 762nd Meeting. Consideration of Reports of State Parties. Initial report of Mozambique, February 28, 2003.

3244 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Mozambique, Section 6d. See also U.S. Embassy – Maputo, reporting, October 13, 2004.

3245 U.S. Embassy – Maputo, reporting, October 13, 2004. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Mozambique, Section 6d.

3246 For children under 18, the maximum workday is seven hours, and the maximum work week is 38 hours. U.S. Embassy – Maputo, reporting, October 13, 2004.

3247 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, CRC Initial Report of Mozambique. UNICEF estimates that only about 14 percent of employers paid for school fees for boys employed in trade. See UNICEF, Child Workers in the Shadow of AIDS, 53.

3248 Constitution of Mozambique, 1990, (November 1990); available from http://confinder.richmond.edu/MOZ.htm.

3249 U.S. Embassy – Maputo, unclassified telegram no. 2544, September 2001.

3250 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Mozambique, May 2001 [cited May 28, 2004]; available from http://www.child soldiers.org/cs/childsoldiers.nsf/fffdbd058ae1d99d80256adc005c2bb8/271431570d2ec5d980256b1e004dc637?OpenDocument&Hi ghlight=0,mozambique.

3251 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Mozambique, Section 5.

3252 Ibid.

3253 Government of Mozambique, Labor, and UNICEF, Child Labour Rapid Assessment: Mozambique (Part I), 80.

3254 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2003: Mozambique, June 11, 2003; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2003/21276.htm. Prosecution of cases of sexual assault and rape, some which are trafficking-related, have increased.

3255 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Mozambique.

3256 U.S. Embassy – Maputo, unclassified telegram no. 2817, October 12, 2001.

3257 Ibid.

3258 Ibid.

3259 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Mozambique, Section 6d.

3260 U.S. Embassy – Maputo, unclassified telegram no. 2817.

3261 Republic of Mozambique, "Speech of the Minister of Justice, His Excellency Jose Abudo on the occasion of the launch of the Study of Legal Reform for the Protection of Children in Mozambique," (September 1, 2003); available from http://www.unicef.org/mozambique/pdfs/latest_news/210903/discurso_ministro_justica.pdf. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Mozambique., Section 5.

3262 U.S. Department of State official, email communication to USDOL official, August 2, 2006.

3263 Ibid.

3264 See UNICEF, Social Policy, Information and Monitoring; available from http://unicef.org/mozambique/social_policy.htm. The government is also working with UNICEF on social protection programs necessitated by the combined effects of poverty, HIV/AIDS, and social dislocation. These programs include supporting the process of legal reform and policy development to benefit vulnerable women and children, and capacity development for special protection. See UNICEF, Special Protection; available from http://www.unicef.org/mozambique/crmp_rights3.htm.

3265 UNICEF, Child Workers in the Shadow of AIDS, 51.

3266 His Excellency Joaquim Alberto Chissano, Statement at UN Special Session on Children, 2002, 3; available from http://www.un.org/ga/children/mozambiqueE.htm.

3267 UNICEF, Latest News: First national seminar on children orphaned and made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS, December 1, 2003 [cited August 18, 2004]; available from http://www.unicef.org/mozambique/late_news.htm#1625316523.

3268 U.S. Embassy – Maputo, unclassified telegram no. 2817.

3269 Ibid.

3270 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Mozambique, Section 5.

3271 Ibid., Section 6f.

3272 Ibid.

3273 U.S. Embassy – Maputo, reporting, October 13, 2004. See also U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2003: Mozambique.

3274 U.S. Embassy – Maputo, reporting, August 25, 2005.

3275 Ministry of Education, Speech by his His Excellency Alcido Nguenha – Minister of Education – on the Occasion of the Launch Ceremony of the 2004 State of the World's Children's Report, January 21, 2004; available from http://www.unicef.org/mozambique/pdfs/latest_news/160204/Min.%20Education.pdf.

3276 UNICEF, Basic Education, [cited September 2, 2004]; available from http://www.unicef.org/mozambique/education_2.htm.

3277 Ministry of Education, Speech by his His Excellency Alcido Nguenha – Minister of Education – on the Occasion of the Launch Ceremony of the 2004 State of the World's Children's Report.

3278 U.S. Embassy – Maputo, unclassified telegram no. 2817. See also Republic of Mozambique, "Speech of the Minister of Justice, His Excellency Jose Abudo on the occasion of the launch of the Study of Legal Reform for the Protection of Children in Mozambique."

3279 Republic of Mozambique, "Speech of the Minister of Justice, His Excellency Jose Abudo on the occasion of the launch of the Study of Legal Reform for the Protection of Children in Mozambique."

3280 U.S. Department of State, Washington File: U.S. Funds Will Provide School Meals in Latin America, Caribbean, August 17, 2004 2004 [cited September 2, 2004]; available from http://usinfo.state.gov/gi/Archive/2004/Aug/18-23606.html.

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