Last Updated: Monday, 30 May 2016, 14:07 GMT

2001 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Yemen

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 - Yemen, 7 June 2002, available at: [accessed 30 May 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

The Government of Yemen became a member of ILO-IPEC in June 1999. In 2000, USDOL funded an ILO-IPEC country program in Yemen. The program aims to withdraw and rehabilitate 3,000 child workers, provide them with formal and non-formal educational opportunities, train labor inspectors, and assist families through the provision of alternative income sources.[2724] The program specifically targets children working in hazardous conditions, children under the age of 12, and girls.[2725] The World Bank is funding a basic education program that provides school supplies to girls in order to offset education costs and boost attendance.[2726]

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 1999, the ILO estimated that 19.2 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 14 were working in Yemen.[2727] The majority of children work in the rural agricultural sector.[2728] Children are also reported to work as domestic laborers and in the retail, fishing, construction, transport, and industrial sectors.[2729] In urban areas, children work in stores and workshops, sell goods on the street, and beg.[2730]

Education is free and compulsory for nine years.[2731] According to the Constitution, education is a public right and basic education is obligatory.[2732] In 1998, the gross primary enrollment rate was 68 percent. Boys enrolled at a rate of 89.1 percent, while girls enrolled at only 45.1 percent.[2733] Primary school attendance rates are unavailable for Yemen. While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children's participation in school.[2734] The Ministry of Education reported that nearly 200,000 boys dropped out of school in 1999. Child labor is reported to interfere with school attendance, particularly in the agriculture and domestic service sectors.[2735]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

There is no clearly established minimum age for employment in Yemen.[2736] The Labor Law of 1995 requires that children under 15 years of age obtain the consent of a parent in order to work, limits the number of hours children under 15 may work, and forbids overtime or night work.[2737] The Labor Law also prohibits children from working in hard or hazardous conditions.[2738] The Constitution of 1994 states that no citizen may be forced to do any work except within the law.[2739] The Penal Code prohibits procuring another person for immoral purposes and prohibits a man from allowing a female under his guardianship to engage in prostitution.[2740] The Penal Code also criminalizes trafficking of persons.[2741] The Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training is responsible for enforcing child labor laws,[2742] but enforcement is reported to be weak, particularly in rural or remote areas.[2743] The Government of Yemen ratified ILO Convention 138 and ILO Convention 182 on June 15, 2000.[2744]

[2724] ILO-IPEC, National Program on the Elimination of Child Labor in Yemen, project document [hereinafter National Program on the Elimination of Child Labor], at 13-15.

[2725] Ibid. at 14.

[2726] U.S. Embassy-Sanaa, unclassified telegram no. 1092, March 2001.

[2727] World Development Indicators 2001 (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2001) [CD-ROM].

[2728] The economic crisis within the country and lack of social security benefits force many families to push their children into subsistence agriculture. See Government of Yemen, Children and Women in Yemen: A Situation Analysis (UNICEFand Radda Barnen, 1998) [hereinafter Children and Women in Yemen], 107. See also Bjorne Grimsrud, Working Children in Yemen: Who Are They? A Study of Child Labour in Yemen, a report produced for the Yemen General Federation of Workers Trade Unions (ILO-FAFO, 1999) [hereinafter Working Children in Yemen], 19, and Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2000 – Yemen (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, 2001) [hereinafter Country Reports 2000], Section 6d, at

[2729] Working Children in Yemen at 18-21. See also Children and Women in Yemen at 104.

[2730] Children and Women in Yemen at 107.

[2731] Preliminary Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Ms. Katarina Tomaševski, submitted in accordance with Commission on Human Rights Resolution 1998/33, UN Document E/CN.4/1999/4913 (Geneva: UN Economic and Social Council, January 1999), at on 12/26/01. See also Solita Sarwono, "Women of Yemen Still Denied Their Basic Rights," Jakarta Post, March 13, 2000, at on 12/26/01. See also Country Reports 2000 at Section 5.

[2732] Constitution of Yemen, Article 53, 1994, at on 12/21/01.

[2733] UNESCO, Education for All: Year 2000 Assessment (Paris, 2000) [CD-ROM].

[2734] For a more detailed discussion on the relationship between education statistics and work, see Introduction to this report.

[2735] National Program on the Elimination of Child Labor at 7, 8.

[2736] Labor Law No. 5 of 1995 defines a working child as an individual younger than 15 years old. However, the law does not specify a minimum age for employment. The 1995 Labor Law is a relaxation of the Labor Law of 1970, which set a minimum age of 12 years and established regulations for working children between 12 and 15 years old. See National Program on the Elimination of Child Labor at 4.

[2737] Children and Women in Yemen at 110.

[2738] Ibid. at 105.

[2739] Constitution of Yemen, Article 29, 1994, at on 12/21/01.

[2740] Penal Code, Articles 179, 180, as cited in UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Second Periodic Reports of States Parties due in 1998: Yemen, UN Document CRC/C/70/Add.1 (Geneva, July 23, 1998) [hereinafter Second Periodic Reports of States Parties], para. 91.

[2741] Penal Code, Article 248, as cited in Second Periodic Reports of States Parties at para. 91.

[2742] National Program on the Elimination of Child Labor at 11.

[2743] Country Reports 2000 at Section 6d.

[2744] ILO, ILOLEX database: Yemen, at

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