Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 September 2014, 13:07 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Malawi

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 - Malawi, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa47ea.html [accessed 1 October 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 Labor2113
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2004:35.9
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2004:38
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2004:34
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:14
Compulsory education age:Not compulsory
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:120
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:93
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2004:77
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2004:42
ILO-IPEC participating country:Associated
* Must pay for miscellaneous school expenses.

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Children in Malawi work on tea, tobacco, and subsistence farms.2114 Children also work in domestic service in both urban and rural areas, and reports indicate that they rarely receive wages.2115 Boys work in herding, animal husbandry, and informal labor such as street vending.2116 Bonded labor of entire families, including children, is widespread on tobacco plantations.2117 Children also work in the construction, fishing, and forestry sectors.2118

Malawi is a source and transit country for children trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation as well as forced labor as domestics and in agriculture, including cattle herding.2119 Children are trafficked to South Africa for commercial sexual exploitation.2120 These children are usually between 14 and 18 years and may be recruited with promises of employment, study, or marriage.2121 Malawian boys as young as 9 years are recruited by estate owners from Zambia and Mozambique and trafficked to these countries to engage in agricultural work under harsh conditions.2122

In urban areas, children engaging in prostitution are found outside nightclubs and hotels.2123 In some communities, young girls are involved in commercial sexual exploitation in exchange for food, clothing, and other commodities. Some girls are sold to become sex slaves along the northern border districts of Malawi.2124 The commercial sexual exploitation of children is reported to be increasing in Malawi's larger cities and towns, communities, tourist resorts, and some rural areas.2125 There are reports that boys as well as girls are being commercially sexually exploited by European tourists along Malawi's lakeshore.2126 The sexual exploitation of girls is also reportedly being perpetrated by teachers and fellow students.2127 According to UNICEF, teachers sexually exploit girl students in exchange for money, causing some to become pregnant and drop out of school.2128

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years. Exceptions are made for certain work in vocational technical schools, other training institutions, and in homes.2129 The law also prohibits children between 14 and 18 years from being employed in work that could harm their health, safety, development, education, or morals, or in work that could interfere with their attendance at school or any vocational or training program.2130 Employers are required to keep a register of all employees under the age of 18 years. Violations of any of these laws can result in a fine and 5 years of imprisonment.2131 The law also protects children under 16 years against economic exploitation as well as any treatment, work, or punishment that is hazardous; interferes with their education; or is harmful to their health or physical, mental, or spiritual and social development.2132

The Constitution prohibits slavery and servitude, as well as any forms of bonded, forced, or compulsory labor. Violators are subject to a monetary fine and 2 years of imprisonment.2133 The law prohibits the procurement of any girl under 21 years for the purpose of unlawful sexual relations, either in Malawi or elsewhere. Abduction, the procuring of a person for prostitution or work in a brothel, and involuntary detention for sexual purposes are all prohibited by law.2134 The minimum age for voluntary recruitment into the military is 18 years, although those younger may enlist with parental consent.2135

The Ministry of Labor (MOL) and police are responsible for the enforcement of child labor laws and policies.2136 In April 2007, the MOL provided child labor law enforcement training for district level government officers from nearly two-thirds of the country's districts.2137 In rural areas, MOL youth committees continue to monitor and report on child labor. According to USDOS, the child labor enforcement efforts of labor inspectors and police were hindered by a lack of resources.2138

The Ministry of Women and Child Development and the police are responsible for handling trafficking cases and assisting trafficking victims.2139 This agency has recently committed to more than doubling its child protection officer staff to 1,000 for the purposes of monitoring trafficking and child labor at the community level.2140 In 2007, the Government trained 160 new child protection officers, bringing the total to 520, who are placed throughout all Malawi's districts.2141 The National Steering Committee on Child Labor and the National Steering Committee on Orphans and Vulnerable Children are responsible for monitoring trafficking.2142 During 2007, the Government continued to prosecute child traffickers, most of whom were trafficking children for the purposes of agricultural work, cattle herding, and domestics.2143 The Government also arrested several individuals for abducting children for child labor. The Ministry of Women and Child Development ensured that the children were repatriated to their home villages.2144

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

In 2007, the Government of Malawi has for the first time budgeted funds explicitly for child labor activities.2145

Seventy-four members of the Malawian police were trained in March 2007 to provide services to child sexual abuse and trafficking victims.2146 The Government recently committed USD 20 million to its 2004-2009 National Plan of Action for Orphans and Vulnerable Children,2147 which includes protection for victims of human trafficking, trafficking prevention, and awareness-raising activities.2148

In 2005, the Government of Malawi began participating in a 3-year, USD 2.1 million ILO-IPEC project, funded by USDOL, which aims to withdraw 2,000 and prevent 3,000 children from entering exploitive labor in tobacco farming and domestic service.2149 Winrock International is implementing a 5-year, USDOL-funded global project with activities to combat exploitive child labor through the provision of basic education in Malawi through 2007.2150

In 2007, the Government, with the assistance of international organizations and NGOs, provided training to its officials, highlighting laws that could be used to investigate and prosecute child trafficking cases.2151 The Government held district meetings and educated numerous child protection officers, social workers, police and immigration officers, and judges on trafficking.2152 In June 2007, the Government and UNICEF initiated an awareness-raising campaign, known as "Lekani," which highlights the problems of child labor and child trafficking.2153

The Government opened a center in Lilongwe that will provide trafficking victims with food, shelter, medical care, psychosocial services, legal aid, and vocational training. The Government, in collaboration with UNICEF and NGOs, operated a center in the southern region for abused and exploited children, including children exploited into prostitution, which offers counseling, rehabilitation, and reintegration services.2154


2113 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 Malawi, Employment Act No.6, (2000), part IV, article 21; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/WEBTEXT/58791/65218/E00MWIo1.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, "Malawi," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2007 Washington, DC, March 11, 2008, section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100491.htm. See also Government of Malawi, Constitution of the Republic of Malawi, (2004), chapter 4, article 25; available from http://www.sdnp.org.mw/constitut/dtlindx.html.

2114 Line Eldring, Child Labour in the Tea Sector in Malawi: A Pilot Study, Fafo, Oslo, 2003, 14, 17-20; available from http://www.fafo.no/pub/rapp/714/714.pdf. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Malawi," section 6d.

2115 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Malawi," section 6d. See also M.G. Tsoka, Rapid Assessment of Child Domestic Labour in Malawi, ILO-IPEC and the University of Malawi Centre for Social Research, Zomba, January 2005, v, 20; available from http://www.ilo.org/ipecinfo/product/viewProduct.do?productId=4727.

2116 ILO-IPEC, Malawi Child Labour 2002 Report ILO-IPEC and Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, Zomba, February 2004, 41; available from http://www.ilo.org/ipecinfo/product/viewProduct.do?productId=940. See also UNICEF, Albania: Child Trafficking, [online] [cited November 30, 2007]; available from http://www.unicef.org/albania/protection_695.html. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Malawi," section 6d.

2117 ILO-IPEC, Country Programme to Combat Child Labour in Malawi, project document, Geneva, 2005, 7-8. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Malawi," section 6c.

2118 ILO-IPEC, Malawi Child Labour 2002 Report 43.

2119 U.S. Department of State, "Malawi (Tier 1)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82806. See also United Nations Economic and Social Council Commission on Human Rights, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography, Juan Miguel Petit, Addendum: Communications to and from Governments, Geneva, March 27, 2006, 19-20; available from http://tb.ohchr.org/default.aspx?country=mlw. See also Jonathan Martens, Maciej 'Mac' Pieczkowski, and Bernadette van Vuuren-Smyth, Seduction, Sale and Slavery: Trafficking in Women and Children for Sexual Exploitation in Southern Africa, 3rd edition, International Organization for Migration Regional Office for Southern Africa, Pretoria, May 2003, 85-92; available from http://www.iom.org.za/site/media/docs/TraffickingReport3rdEd.pdf.

2120 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Malawi," section 5. See also Jonathan Martens, Maciej 'Mac' Pieczkowski, and Bernadette van Vuuren-Smyth, Seduction, Sale and Slavery, 85-92.

2121 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Malawi," section 5.

2122 United Nations Economic and Social Council Commission on Human Rights, Report of the Special Rapporteur 19-20. See also U.S. Embassy – Lilongwe, reporting, December 3, 2007.

2123 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, First periodic report of Malawi on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, CRC/C/MWI/2, Geneva, 2007, 130; available from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/docs/AdvanceVersions/CRC.C.MWI.2.pdf.

2124 Ibid.

2125 ECPAT International CSEC Database, Malawi, accessed March 17, 2008; available from http://www.ecpat.net/. See also Jonathan Martens, Maciej 'Mac' Pieczkowski, and Bernadette van Vuuren-Smyth, Seduction, Sale and Slavery, 80-85.

2126 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, First periodic report of Malawi on the implementation of the CRC, 131. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Malawi."

2127 ECPAT International CSEC Database, Malawi. See also Fiona Leach, Vivian Fiscian, Esme Kadzamira, Eve Lemani, and Pamela Machakanja, An Investigative Study of the Abuse of Girls in African Schools, Department for International Development (DFID), London, August 2003; available from http://www.dfid.gov.uk/pubs/files/investudyafricaedpaper54.pdf. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Malawi: Abuse of women and girls a national shame", IRINnews.org, [online], February 1, 2006; available from http://www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=51488.

2128 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Malawi," section 5.

2129 Government of Malawi, Employment Act No.6, article 21.

2130 Ibid., article 22.

2131 Ibid., articles 23-24.

2132 Government of Malawi, Constitution of the Republic of Malawi, chapter IV, article 23

2133 U.S. Embassy – Lilongwe, reporting, March 1, 2007. See also Government of Malawi, Constitution of the Republic of Malawi, chapter IV, article 27. See also Government of Malawi, Employment Act No.6, article 4(1)-(2).,

2134 Government of Malawi, Penal Code, [previously online]; available from http://www.protectionproject.org [hard copy on file]. See also U.S. Embassy – Lilongwe, reporting, March 1, 2007.

2135 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Malawi," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/regions/country?id=128.

2136 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Malawi," section 6d.

2137 Ibid.

2138 Ibid.

2139 Ibid., section 5.

2140 Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Malawi: Government intensifies campaign against chlid labour", IRINnews.org, [online], November 30, 2007 [cited December 10, 2007]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportID=75626.

2141 U.S. Embassy – Lilongwe, reporting, March 5, 2008, section 5i.

2142 U.S. Embassy – Lilongwe, reporting, March 1, 2007.

2143 U.S. Embassy – Lilongwe, reporting, March 5, 2008, sections 3b, 4f.

2144 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Malawi," section 5. U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Malawi."

2145 ILO-IPEC, Country Programme to Combat Child Labour in Malawi, technical progress report, Geneva, September 2007, 2.

2146 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Malawi."

2147 UNICEF, Malawi – Background, [online] [cited December 10, 2007]; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/malawi_2424.html. See also The Policy Project, Recent Successes: Malawi, [online] [cited October 18, 2006]; available from http://www.policyproject.com/countries.cfm?country=Malawi.

2148 U.S. Department of State, "Malawi (Tier 1)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006, Washington, DC, June 5, 2006; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2006/65989.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Malawi."

2149 ILO-IPEC, Country Programme to Combat Child Labour in Malawi, project document, Geneva, 2005, 2. See also ILO-IPEC, Program to Combat Child Labor in Malawi, technical progress report, September 2007, 21.

2150 Winrock International, Project Fact Sheet: Reducing Child Labor through Education (CIRCLE 1), [online] n.d. [cited March 18, 2008]; available from http://www.winrock.org/fact/facts.asp?CC=5411&bu=.

2151 U.S. Embassy – Lilongwe, reporting, March 5, 2008, section 4g.

2152 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Malawi."

2153 U.S. Embassy – Lilongwe, reporting, March 5, 2008, section 6b.

2154 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Malawi."

Search Refworld

Countries