Last Updated: Friday, 22 August 2014, 15:07 GMT

2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Russia

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 - Russia, 29 August 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d749055.html [accessed 23 August 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     05/03/1979
Ratified Convention 182     03/25/2003
ILO-IPEC Associated 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 Russia are unavailable.3922 Children work in agriculture, construction, informal retail services, selling goods on the street, washing cars, repairing automobiles, making deliveries, collecting trash, and begging.3923 Male children are reportedly more likely to leave school at a young age and find work.3924 Begging in Moscow is reportedly most prevalent among children with parents who are migrants from the Central Asia republics.3925 Children as young as 12 years old are involved in selling stolen items and drugs as well as in commercial sexual exploitation.3926 The prevalence of harmful child labor is closely tied to child neglect, school dropout, and alcohol and drug use.3927 Child labor is one of many problems associated with poverty. In 2002, less than 2 percent of the population were living on less than USD 1 a day.3928

The number of street children has reportedly increased in recent years.3929 Street children are estimated to number more than 100,000, with a potential 3 million additional children at risk of living on the streets.3930

Without educational opportunities or family support, youth often form or join gangs or groups, participate in illegal activities, and are at risk for exploitative child labor.3931

Children are trafficked from Russia to Western Europe, the CIS, the Middle East, and Asia, and from rural to urban areas within the country for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation and labor.3932 There were reports of kidnapped or purchased children being trafficked for sexual exploitation, child pornography, or removal and sale of body parts.3933 There are confirmed cases of sex trafficking of children and child sex tourism in Russia, a major producer and distributor of child pornography over the Internet.3934 Male children are trafficked internally and externally for the purposes of forced labor in the construction industry.3935 There are reports that rebel forces in Chechnya recruit and use child soldiers. These forces are also reported to use children to plant landmines and other explosives.3936

Although no law makes education compulsory, the Constitution holds parents responsible for ensuring their children receive a basic education. Federal law stipulates free education for all children up to grade 11, but the Law on Education allows a child to terminate school at the age of 14 with parental and governmental approval.3937 In 2002, the gross primary enrollment rate was 118 percent and the net primary enrollment rate was 90 percent.3938 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. Primary school attendance statistics are not available for Russia.3939

Most families pay additional fees for books and school supplies.3940 The added expenses of uniforms, textbooks, and school services are cited by parents as reasons many children are not enrolled in school.3941 Due to their lack of permanent residence, many Roma children and homeless children face difficulties obtaining personal identification documents. Without these, there are limitations on their use of public health, social security, and education services.3942 Children of migrants and asylum seekers are frequently denied access to education and governmental services by country and regional authorities.3943 Poor regions struggle to maintain basic education requirements. Vocational education graduates often lack basic skills that would enable them to enter and compete in the workforce.3944

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Code sets the minimum age for employment at 16 years,3945 although children may work at ages 14 and 15 with parental approval, as long as such work does not threaten their health and welfare.3946 Employers are required to provide annual medical surveys to children under 18 years old.3947 The employment of children under 18 years old in overtime and night work is prohibited.3948 The Labor Code guarantees 31 calendar days of paid annual leave to working children under 18 years old.3949 The employment of children under 18 years old in unhealthy and/or dangerous conditions, underground work, as well as in jobs that may injure their health and moral development (gambling; work in night cabarets and clubs; and the production, transportation and sale of spirits, tobacco, narcotics and toxic materials) is prohibited.3950

The worst forms of child labor may be prosecuted under different statutes in Russia. The Constitution prohibits forced labor.3951 The Criminal Code prohibits the use of a known minor's forced labor and imposes prison sentences of between 3 and 10 years for violations.3952 The minimum age for military conscription is 18 years.3953 In December 2003, the government passed comprehensive amendments to the Criminal Code that prohibit human trafficking, forced labor, the distribution of pornography, the recruitment of prostitutes, and the organization of a prostitution business.3954 The Criminal Code punishes depraved acts (including sex and the making of pornography) with a child who is known to be under the age of 16 with penalties of up to 3 years of imprisonment.3955 Soliciting a minor for prostitution is prohibited, punishable by up to 4 years of imprisonment.3956 Attracting a known minor to prostitution is punishable with a sentence of between 3 and 8 years incarceration.3957 Operating a brothel with known minors under the age of 16 is punishable with a sentence of up to 6 years of imprisonment. If the child is under the age of 14, the sentence is 3 to 10 years.3958 The making and circulation across borders of pornography with known minors is punishable by up to 6 years of imprisonment or between 3 and 8 years of imprisonment if the child is under the age of 14.3959 Trafficking of a known minor is punishable by a sentence of between 3 and 10 years of imprisonment. If an organized group of traffickers is involved, the sentence is extended to between 8 and 15 years.3960 According to the U.S. Department of State, there have been reports of corrupt government officials facilitating human trafficking.3961 New witness protection legislation became effective in January 2005.3962

In 2005 the Ministry of the Interior registered 66 criminal cases of human trafficking, 22 cases of forced labor, 257 cases of recruitment of prostitutes, 2,114 cases of illegal distribution of pornography, 60 cases of the production and sale of materials containing pornographic pictures of children, and 2,196 individuals involved in crimes related to human trafficking.3963

Since 1999, the Government of Russia has submitted to the ILO a list of 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 138.3964

The Ministry of Health and Social Development and the Federal Labor Inspectorate are responsible for the enforcement of child labor laws,3965 but according to the U.S. Department of State, they fail to do so effectively. The ministry reported that 12,000 child labor violations were registered in 2001, the most recent year for which information is available.3966 Violations of medical examination, overtime, and annual leave laws for children are common occurrences.3967 The Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Science, and the General Procurator's Office are also involved with combating the worst forms of child labor.3968

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

The Ministry of Health and Social Development continues to work with UNICEF to establish a number of regional child rights ombudsmen, who have the authority to request enforcement actions from government agencies.3969 The government has established a commission headed by the Minister of Health and Social Development to focus on child labor and education issues.3970 The government has conducted various awareness-raising activities on the problem of trafficking, including hosting two regional anti-trafficking conferences. In the absence of a formal antitrafficking coordination body, a legislative working group has been established at the Duma, and NGOs and international organizations report good working relations with the government on trafficking issues.3971

The government is participating in ILO-IPEC projects funded by a private donor and the Government of Finland in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region that provide social, psychological, and educational services to children at risk of being trafficked.3972

The government's Children of Russia Program (2003-2006) and its subprogram, Prevention of Child Neglect and Offenses by Minors, aim to prevent child neglect, homelessness, and substance abuse by minors. The programs provide rehabilitation and support services through approximately 3,500 specialized institutions serving children and families throughout the Russian Federation. The government has dedicated 1,563,400,000 rubles (USD 54,171,864) from the federal budget to the program.3973

The Government of Russia's Education for All Plan seeks to improve the quality and accessibility of primary education in order to create better standards of living and increase the global competitiveness of Russia's population.3974 The World Bank loaned Russia USD 50 million to implement an Education Reform Project that began in 2001 and will end in 2006. This project seeks to promote optimal resource allocation for education; modernize the structure of the education system; and improve the general quality and standards of education.3975 The World Bank also loaned Russia USD 100 million to implement an e-Learning Support Project that began in 2004 and will end in 2008. This project will build capacity to produce learning materials, support teacher training on information and communication technologies, and establish a network of school resource centers.3976


3922 This statistic is not available from the data sources that are used in this report. Please see the section in the front of the report titled "Data Sources and Definitions" 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 "Data Sources and Definitions" section.

3923 ILO-IPEC, In-Depth Analysis of the Situation of Working Street Children in Moscow 2001, Moscow, 2002, 36; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/simpoc/russia/ra/street_m.pdf. See also S.V. Volkova, Director, Moscow Municipal Center Children of the Streets, interview to Svetlana N. Shcheglova, March 21, 2005. See also Svetlana N. Shcheglova, "Child Labor: Rights and Guarantees of Protection from Exploitation," Chelovek i Trud 3 (2003), 26-28. See also A.L. Arefyev, "Russia's Neglected Children," Sotsiologicheskiye Issledovaniya 3 (2002).

3924 Volkova, interview, March 21, 2005.

3925 Ibid.

3926 ILO-IPEC, Analysis of the Situation of Working Street Children in Moscow, 36. See also Volkova, interview, March 21, 2005. See also Arefyev, "Russia's Neglected Children."

3927 S.V. Vetelis, Deputy Chief of the Department of Psychological and Pedagogical Support of Children and Youth of the Ministry of Education and Science, Government of the Russian Federation, interview to Svetlana N. Shcheglova, April 4, 2005. A study of homeless children conducted in January and February 2002 reported that many children beg, steal, work as loaders and porters at construction sites, clean and pump petrol at gas stations, engage in prostitution, clean or remove trash or snow, and sell drugs to earn money. See Arefyev, "Russia's Neglected Children."

3928 World Bank, World Development Indicators 2005 [CD-ROM], Washington, DC, 2005.

3929 U. S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Russia, Washington, D.C., February 28, 2005, Sections 5, 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41704.htm. See also ILO-IPEC, Analysis of the Situation of Working Street Children in Moscow, 17. See also UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Russian Federation, CRC/C/15/Add.110, United Nations, Geneva, November 1999, para. 26; available from http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/f60a0928c30f787980256811003b8d5d?Opendocument.

3930 World Bank, Memorandum of the President of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Finance Corporation to the Executive Directors on a Country Assistance Strategy of the World Bank Group for the Russian Federation, Report No: 24127-RU, Washington, D.C., May 14, 2002, 4; available from http://www.worldbank.org.ru/ECA/Russia.nsf/ECADocByUnid/B38DE4AEF2AEB41EC3256CB50033CC73/$FILE/Russia%20 CAS%2024127-RU.pdf. See also U. S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Russia, Section 5.

3931 Pierella Paci, Gender in Transition, The World Bank, Washington, D.C., May 21, 2002, xvi, 78; available from http://www wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2002/08/23/000094946_0208130410249/Rendered/PDF/multi0pag e.pdf.

3932 Donna M. Hughes, Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation: The Case of the Russian Federation, No. 7, IOM, Geneva, June 2002, 17; available from http://www.iom.int/documents/publication/en/mrs%5F7%5F2002.pdf. See also U. S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2005: Russia, Washington, D.C., June 3, 2005; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2005/46616.htm. See also U. S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Russia, Section 5.

3933 U. S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Russia, Section 5.

3934 Ibid.

3935 Elena Tyuryukanova, Forced Labor in the Russian Federation Today: Irregular Migration and Trafficking in Human Beings, International Labour Office, Geneva, September 2005, 116-120.

3936 UN General Assembly Security Council, Children and Armed Conflict: Report of the Secretary-General, Geneva, November 10, 2003, para. 61; available from http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N05/215/07/PDF/N0521507.pdf?OpenElement.

3936 U. S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Russia, Section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – Moscow, reporting, October 22, 2002.

3938 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, http://stats.uis.unesco.org/TableViewer/tableView.aspx?ReportId=51 (Gross and Net Enrolment Ratios, Primary; accessed October 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.

3939 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.

3940 U.S. Embassy – Moscow, reporting, October 22, 2002.

3941 V.I. Zolotukhina, O.Y. Lebedev, A.N. Mayorov, and Y.Y. Chepurnykh, On Honoring and Protecting Children's Rights at Educational Institutions of the Russian Federation, Intellekt-Tsentr, Moscow, 2003.

3942 UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, Concluding Observations of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Russian Federation, E/C.12/1/Add.94, United Nations, Geneva, December 2003, para. 12; available from http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/5192a0b3c292a7ecc1256e12003abf2d?Opendocument.

3943 U. S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Russia, Sections 2d, 5.

3944 World Bank, Project Appraisal Document on a Proposed Loan in the Amount of US$100 Million to the Russian Federation for an E-Learning Support Project, 27757-RU, Washington, D.C., January 20, 2004, 5, 8; available from http://www wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2004/02/12/000012009_20040212103556/Rendered/PDF/276500RU .pdf.

3945 Labor Code, (February 1, 2002), Article 63; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/WEBTEXT/60535/65252/E01RUS01.htm#chap11. See also N.A. Shakina, Department Head of the Ministry of Health and Social Development and Executive Secretary of the Interdepartmental Commission for the Affairs of Minors, Government of the Russian Federation, interview to Svetlana N. Shcheglova, March 11 and 14, 2005.

3946 U. S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Russia, Section 6d.

3947 Labor Code, Articles 265 and 266. See also Shakina, interview, March 11 and 14, 2005.

3948 Labor Code, Article 268.

3949 Ibid., Article 267.

3950 Ibid., Article 265.

3951 Constitution of the Russian Federation, Article 37 (2); available from http://www.friendspartners.org/oldfriends/constitution/russian-const-ch2.html.

3952 The Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, Article 127.2; available from http://www.legislationline.org/view.php?document=62711.

3953 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Child Soldiers Global Report – 2004: Russian Federation, November 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=924.

3954 U. S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Russia, Section 5.

3955 The Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, Article 135. See also U.S. Embassy – Moscow, reporting, October 22, 2002.

3956 The Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, Article 151.

3957 Ibid., Article 240.

3958 Ibid., Article 141.

3959 Ibid., Article 242.1.

3960 Ibid., Article 127.1.

3961 U. S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Russia, Section 5.

3962 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2005: Russia. See also U. S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Russia, Section 5.

3963 Ministry of the Interior, Counteracting Trafficking in People in the Russian Federation, [online] May 16, 2006 [cited August 17, 2006]; available from http://www.mvdinform.ru/press/release/4165/.

3964 ILO-IPEC official, email communication to USDOL official, November 8, 2005.

3965 U.S. Embassy – Moscow, reporting, October 22, 2002. See also Institute of International Socio-Humanitarian Relations, Experience of the Implementation of the Federal Law "On the Basics of the System of Preventing Minor Child Neglect and Offenses" in Regions of the Russian Federation, Moscow, 2004, 27-28.

3966 U. S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Russia, Section 6d.

3967 Institute of International Socio-Humanitarian Relations, Experience of the Implementation of the Federal Law "On the Basics of the System of Preventing Minor Child Neglect and Offenses" in Regions of the Russian Federation, 24.

3968 Vetelis, interview, April 4, 2005.

3969 Such positions have been established in the cities of Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Yekaterinburg, and in the regions of Arzamas Volkskiy, Novgorod, Chechnya, Ivanovo, and Volgograd. See U. S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Russia, Section 5. See also O.V. Remenets and A. Kudria, Program Managers, UNICEF Moscow Office, interview to Svetlana N. Shcheglova, March 14 and March 18, 2005.

3970 U.S. Embassy – Moscow, reporting, October 22, 2002. See also Shakina, interview, March 11 and 14, 2005.

3971 U. S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2005: Russia.

3972 ILO-IPEC official, email communication, November 8, 2005. See also ILO-IPEC, News, ILO-IPEC, St. Petersburg, 2004.

3973 Government of the Russian Federation, Prevention of Child Neglect and Offenses by Minors, certificate, September 6, 2004. See also Shakina, interview, March 11 and 14, 2005. See also OANDA.com, FXConvertor, [database online] December 12, 2005 [cited December 12, 2005]; available from http://www.oanda.com/convert/classic.

3974 Government of the Russian Federation, Education for All: Russia's National Framework for Action, UNESCO, October 2, 2003, 18, 19; available from http://portal.unesco.org/education/fr/file_download.php/8e40598bc1035e1ff54dfb4cc1a9e0fcEFARussia.doc.

3975 World Bank, Project Appraisal Document on a Proposed Loan in the Amount of US$50 Million to the Russian Federation for an Education Reform Project, 21782-RU, Washington, D.C., April 30, 2001; available from http://web.worldbank.org/external/projects/main?pagePK=104231&piPK=73230&theSitePK=40941&menuPK=228424&Projecti d=P050474. See also World Bank, Russian Federation – Project Portfolio: Education Reform Project ID (P050474), World Bank, Washington, D.C., April 25, 2005; available from http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/ECAEXT/RUSSIANFEDERATIONEXTN/0,contentMDK:20440 936~menuPK:952979~pagePK:141137~piPK:217854~theSitePK:305600,00.html?1=1&l=e&id=43.

3976 World Bank, Project Appraisal Document on a Proposed Loan in the Amount of US$100 Million to the Russian Federation for an E-Learning Support Project. See also World Bank, Russian Federation – Project Portfolio: e-Learning Support Project ID (P075387), World Bank, Washington, D.C., April 25, 2005; available from http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/ECAEXT/RUSSIANFEDERATIONEXTN/0,contentMDK:20440 936~menuPK:952979~pagePK:141137~piPK:217854~theSitePK:305600,00.html?1=1&l=e&id=34.

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