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2001 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Swaziland

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 7 June 2002
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2001 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Swaziland, 7 June 2002, available at: [accessed 1 June 2016]
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.

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

In 1992, Swaziland produced a National Program of Action for the Children of Swaziland, 1993-2000, which addressed most articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, including child labor.[2433] The Ministry of Education is also involved in improving the quality of schooling by assessing the need for new teachers, constructing new schools, and improving the schools currently in existence.[2434]

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 1999, UNICEF estimated that 12 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 14 in Swaziland were working.[2435] Children work in agriculture, particularly in the eastern cotton growing region, domestic service, herding, street work, and prostitution. Street children in the capital city of Mbabane are subjected to physical and sexual abuse.[2436] The trafficking of children for prostitution is a problem throughout the Southern Africa region.[2437]

Education is neither free nor compulsory in Swaziland. The Ministry of Education pays teacher salaries, while student fees and money raised from the community pay for costs such as building upkeep and teacher housing.[2438] In 1996, the net primary school enrollment rate was 90.8 percent, with gender parity at the primary level.[2439] In 1998, 80.5 percent of children reached grade 5.[2440] Primary school attendance rates are unavailable for Swaziland. While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children's participation in school.[2441] In 1996, 91.3 percent of the teachers were certified to teach according to national standards, and the pupil to teacher ratio was 33:9.[2442]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Employment Act of 1980 establishes a minimum age of 15 years for employment in non-hazardous industrial work, although children may begin working in the commercial sector at 13 years of age.[2443] Children under the minimum age may be hired in enterprises that employ only family members and may work at technical schools under the supervision of a teacher or authorized person.[2444] Children may not work more than 6 hours a day and 33 hours a week, with restrictions on night work during the school year.[2445] Employment of children under 18 years is not permitted in mines, quarries, or underground work or in any sector that is dangerous to their safety, health, and morals.[2446] The Ministry of Labor is responsible for the enforcement of the Employment Act and other labor legislation; however, its effectiveness is hampered by a shortage of personnel.[2447]

Article 42 of the Criminal Code of Swaziland makes procuring girls and women for prostitution punishable by 5 years in prison or a fine of 1000 Rand (USD 89), and conspiracy to defile a girl or woman is punishable by 2 years in prison or a 600 Rand (USD 54) fine.[2448] Swaziland has not ratified either ILO Convention 138 or ILO Convention 182.[2449]

[2433] Government of Swaziland, Ministry of Education, and UNICEF, African Girls Education Initiative: Baseline Data (Mbabane, 1993), as cited in M. D. McDermott, Common Country Assessment – Swaziland (Mbabane: Environmental Consulting Services, 1997) [hereinafter Common Country Assessment], at

[2434] Swaziland Business Yearbook 2001.

[2435] UNICEF, Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys: End of Decade Databases, at on 12/5/01. According to the ILO, in 1999, 12.6 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 14 were working. See World Development Indicators 2001 (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2001) [hereinafter World Development Indicators 2001] [CD-ROM].

[2436] Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2000 – Swaziland (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, 2001) [hereinafter Country Reports 2000], Section 6d, at See also Common Country Assessment and Swedish International Development Agency, Looking Back, Thinking Forward: The Fourth Report on the Implementation of the Agenda for Action Adopted at the First World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Stockholm, Sweden, on 28 August 1996, 1999-2000 (Bangkok: ECPAT International, 2000) [hereinafter Looking Back, Thinking Forward], 38.

[2437] Looking Back, Thinking Forward at 38.

[2438] Country Reports 2000 at Section 5.

[2439] World Development Indicators 2001.

[2440] UNESCO, Education for All: Year 2000 Assessment (Paris, 2000) [CD-ROM] [hereinafter EFA 2000].

[2441] For a more detailed discussion on the relationship between education statistics and work, see Introduction to this report.

[2442] EFA 2000.

[2443] ILO, Child Labour: Targeting the Intolerable, Report 6 (1) (Geneva: ILO-IPEC, 1998) [hereinafter Targeting the Intolerable] at See also International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, Internationally Recognized Core Labour Standards in the Five Countries of the Southern African Customs Union, report for the WTO General Council Review of the Trade Policies of the Five Countries of the Southern African Customs Union, paper presented at the ILO, Geneva, April 21-23, 1998 [hereinafter Internationally Recognized Core Labour Standards].

[2444] Country Reports 2000 at Section 6d. See also Targeting the Intolerable.

[2445] Internationally Recognized Core Labour Standards.

[2446] Targeting the Intolerable.

[2447] Internationally Recognized Core Labour Standards.

[2448] The Protection Project: Swaziland at on 12/7/01. For currency conversion, see on 1/25/01.

[2449] ILO, Table of Ratifications and Information Concerning the Fundamental Conventions of the ILO, at on 12/20/01.

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