Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2018, 17:46 GMT

2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Chile

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 - Chile, 10 September 2009, available at: [accessed 21 January 2018]
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, 2003:2,800,255
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2003:3.5
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2003:4.4
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2003:2.6
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%), 2003:
     – Agriculture24.7
     – Manufacturing6.6
     – Services66.6
     – Other2.0
Minimum age for work:18
Compulsory education age:17-18
Free public education:Yes
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2006:104.4
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:90.0
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2003:97.2
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2005:99.2
ILO Convention 138:2/1/1999
ILO Convention 182:7/17/2000
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In Chile, children work in the production of ceramics and books and in the repair of shoes and garments. Children in urban areas work as baggers in supermarkets and wait tables in restaurants. They also sell goods on the street, work as domestic servants, care for parked automobiles, and assist in construction activities. Children in rural areas are involved in caring for farm animals, as well as harvesting, collecting, and selling crops, such as wheat, potatoes, oats, piñon, and quinua. Children also work in fishing and forestry.

Commercial sexual exploitation of children is a problem in Chile. Child pornography and the use of children in drug production and sales also occur in the country. Children are used as drug mules in the border area with Peru and Bolivia. Children are trafficked internally for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Children, along with their families, are trafficked across borders with Peru and Bolivia to work in agriculture.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for employment without restrictions at 18 years. Children 15 to 18 years may only perform light work that will not affect their health or school attendance and only with parental permission. Children between 15 and 18 years must also have documentation of enrollment or completion of secondary education to work. A child may not work more than 8 hours a day and, if the child has not completed secondary schooling, he or she may not work more than 30 hours per week during the school year. Children under 18 years are also not permitted to work at night between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., with the exception of work in a family business. The law also allows boys over 16 years to work in some industrial settings at night. Children under 15 years may only work in artistic events with the permission of parents and local authorities. Chile has a list of 23 types of work that are dangerous due to their nature and 4 types of work that are dangerous due to their conditions. Dangerous work includes work with explosives; work that involves repetitive movements; work with dangerous substances or equipment; work at sea, underwater, or underground; work in establishments that sell alcohol or tobacco or exhibit sexually explicit material; and work that requires crossing country borders or transporting valuable goods or money.

The Ministry of Labor enforces labor laws, and USDOS reports that Chile is allocating considerable resources and oversight to child labor policies. Although the Ministry of Labor's Labor Inspections Directorate had no inspectors dedicated exclusively to child labor, the Directorate conducted 5,667 child labor inspections and imposed sanctions in 111 cases. During the reporting period, Chile's National Task Force on the Worst Forms of Child Labor ran a national registry of child labor cases and detected 268 new cases of the worst forms of child labor.

Chilean laws prohibit slavery and forced labor. The trafficking of a minor across national boundaries for the purpose of sexual exploitation is punishable by 5 to 20 years in prison. The prostitution of children is punishable by 3 to 5 years in prison, with penalties of up to 20 years in the case of involvement of family members or government authorities. The law establishes punishments for the production, sale, importation, exportation, distribution, and exhibition of pornography using minors. The minimum age for compulsory military service in Chile is 18 years.

Chile's national police dedicated 103 police to minors' issues, including the detection of children involved in the worst forms of child labor. Chile's Public Ministry investigated 347 cases of commercial sexual exploitation of children and opened 126 trafficking investigations, most of which related to child trafficking. However, the Government's ability to combat trafficking was limited by a lack of financial resources and current laws.

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

As part of its National Policy on Childhood (2001-2010), the Government of Chile has adopted a national child labor action plan that focuses on raising awareness, collecting data, promoting legislative reform in compliance with ILO conventions, developing targeted social and educational programs, and conducting ongoing monitoring and evaluation.

The Government of Chile also participated in two ILO-IPEC regional projects, a Phase II USD 2.6 million and a Phase III USD 3 million project to eradicate child labor in Latin America, funded by the Government of Spain. The Government 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 municipal government office of Los Andes, near the border with Argentina, funds a project to provide rehabilitation services to trafficking victims, assess its extent, and raise awareness about the problem.

Based on the list of hazardous types of work for children and adolescents, the Ministry of Justice's Service for Minors maintains a register of documented worst forms of child labor cases, with input from the Chilean police and the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare. The Ministry of Interior coordinates efforts to combat trafficking in persons with NGOs and other government agencies. The Public Ministry takes the lead on issues related to the investigation and prosecution of trafficking in persons. The Service for Minors works with 105 municipal government offices to combat the worst forms of child labor. The Ministry of Labor is collaborating with an NGO to develop child labor intervention strategies. The Government also collaborated with neighboring countries to ensure safe repatriation of trafficking victims. In addition, the Service for Minors worked with counterparts in Bolivia to combat child labor, emphasizing the prevention of child trafficking. The Government's Service for Minors oversees 14 programs to assist child victims of commercial sexual exploitation. The Government also conducted extensive media campaigns to educate young Chileans seeking work abroad. These efforts were in conjunction with international organizations and NGOs.

The Government of Chile 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. Chile's National Tourism Service 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 Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

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