Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2017, 12:01 GMT

2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Argentina

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 10 September 2009
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Argentina, 10 September 2009, available at: [accessed 24 November 2017]
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 Labor
Population, children, 5-14 years:
Working children, 5-14 years (%):
Working boys, 5-14 years (%):
Working girls, 5-14 years (%):
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:15
Compulsory education age:18
Free public education:Yes
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:112.3
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:98.5
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%):
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2004:89.7
ILO Convention 138:11/11/1996
ILO Convention 182:2/5/2001
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In rural areas of Argentina, some children work in family and third-party farms in the production of tobacco, cotton, garlic, grapes, blueberries, olives, yerba mate, tomatoes, and strawberries, often handling pesticides without proper protection. There is also evidence that some children work in the production of lemons, potatoes, sugar, onions, raspberries, jojoba, and flowers. In urban areas, some children engage in domestic service, work in street sales, work as street performers, shine shoes, wash cars, and collect and sort trash for recycling. According to Government of Argentina sources, they produce bricks, matches, fireworks, shoes, cables, and garments, often in small workshops. Some children have also been found working in the mining, fishing, and construction sectors.

Incidences of child sex tourism occured particularly in the Buenos Aires city and triborder area with Brazil and Paraguay. Paraguayan children have been reported to be trafficked to Argentina for the purpose of sexual exploitation. According to Government of Argentina sources, child pornography and the recruitment of children for illicit activities, such as drug trafficking, are problems. Bolivian children have been reported to be involved in the forced production of garments in Argentina.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

In June 2008, Argentina raised the legal minimum age for employment from 14 to 15 years, and this will subsequently increase to 16 years in May 2010. In addition, the law specifically prohibits the employment of children under 16 years in domestic service. Children 15 to 16 years may work up to 3 hours daily and 15 hours a week during the morning or afternoon, as long as the work is within a family business, is not hazardous, and does not interrupt schooling. Families must first request special authorization from labor authorities and must demonstrate that they are not contractors or suppliers for other companies. Children 16 to 18 years are prohibited from working more than 6 hours a day and 36 hours a week, and between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. In some authorized cases, however, children 16 to 18 years can work between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Argentine law sets the minimum age for volunteering for the Argentine Armed Forces at 18 years.

Argentine law prohibits forced or compulsory labor. The law provides for 4 to 10 years of imprisonment for facilitating the prostitution of children under 18 years of age and 6 to 15 years when it involves children under 13 years of age. The penalty increases to 10 to 15 years of imprisonment for the facilitation of prostitution by means of deception, violence, threats, abuse of authority, or other forms of intimidation or coercion, or by a family member or guardian. The use of children in pornographic shows or the production or publication of pornography that features minors carries penalties of 6 months to 4 years of imprisonment. The distribution or trading of child pornography carries penalties of 4 months to 2 years of imprisonment. In April 2008, Argentina passed legislation prohibiting trafficking in persons both domestically and internationally for purposes of forced labor or sexual exploitation. The trafficking of minors carries penalties of 4 to 10 years in prison. For children under 13 years of age, the penalty is 6 to 15 years in prison. Penalties increase to 10 to 15 years imprisonment if the crime is committed through abuse of authority or by family members of the victim.

USDOS reports significant progress in Argentina's efforts to combat trafficking, but corruption at the provincial and local levels remains a concern. According to USDOS, authorities conducted 138 raids, made 161 arrests, and rescued 181 trafficking victims during the reporting period. In 2008, the First Responders Office for the Rescue and Immediate Assistance of Trafficking Victims took the lead in coordinating the efforts of four federal law enforcement agencies to combat trafficking.

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

The National Commission for the Eradication of Child Labor (CONAETI) continued with the implementation of the National Plan to Combat Child Labor, which calls for the national consolidation of data, awareness raising, interinstitutional collaboration, stronger inspection mechanisms, mainstreaming of child laborers into the formal education system, research, coordination of child labor laws, and a national program for the prevention and eradication of child labor in rural and urban settings. CONAETI conducted seminars with the 19 provincial commissions for the eradication of child labor, which are responsible for enforcing labor laws and raising awareness regarding exploitive child labor. CONAETI also provides technical assistance to NGOs combating child labor in the tobacco and trash-picking sectors and organizes workshops with tobacco producers to promote corporate social responsibility to fight child labor. In September 2008, the Government of Argentina, along with the General Workers' Confederation (CGT) and the Argentine Industry Association (UIA), signed a memorandum of understanding with the ILO to implement its "Decent Work" initiative, which includes efforts to prevent and eradicate child labor.

The Government works with several NGOs in addressing commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) in the triborder area with Brazil and Paraguay. A trinational network involving local government and civil society coordinates the efforts to combat trafficking. The Government provided training on issues related to trafficking in persons to law enforcement officials during the reporting period. In addition, the Government's Ministry of Justice funded an awareness-raising campaign in the state of Misiones to prevent trafficking. The city of Buenos Aires requires that the tourist industry comply with codes of conduct to prevent child sex tourism.

The Ministry of Education, through its National Program for Educational Inclusion (Programa Nacional de Inclusión Educativa), provides scholarships to withdraw children from work and reintegrate them back into school.

The Government of Argentina is currently participating in a project funded by IDB for the Prevention and Eradication of Child Labor in Migrant Families. The project, implemented by IOM, works with families engaged in garbage scavenging and recycling, providing them with services and regularizing their immigration status. IDB is also funding a regional project to combat the trafficking and sexual exploitation of children in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The project aims to strengthen local organizations that work in prevention, detection, and victim assistance. Argentina participates in a USD

2.1 million regional ILO-IPEC child labor survey funded by Canada. The Government also collaborated with IOM in a USD 100,000 five country regional project funded by USDOS to provide return and reintegration assistance to trafficking victims.

The Government of Argentina and other associates and member governments of MERCOSUR are carrying out the "Niño Sur" ("Southern Child") initiative to defend the rights of children and adolescents in the region. The initiative aims to raise awareness of commercial sexual exploitation, improve country legal frameworks, and exchange best practices to tackle issues related to victim protection and assistance. Argentina's Secretariat of Tourism is part of the Joint Group for the Elimination of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Tourism, which conducts prevention and awareness-raising campaigns to combat the commercial exploitation of children in Latin America. It was created in 2005 and includes the Ministries of Tourism from Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

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