Last Updated: Friday, 20 October 2017, 11:43 GMT

2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Paraguay

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 18 April 2003
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Paraguay, 18 April 2003, available at: [accessed 22 October 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.

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

The Government of Paraguay has been a member of ILO-IPEC since 1998 and created the National Commission on Child Labor in 1999.2806 In 2001, ILO-IPEC began implementing two USDOL-funded projects to address the child and adolescent domestic service population in Asunción and the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents on the country's border with Argentina and Brazil.2807 In addition, Paraguay and the other MERCOSUR2808 member governments, the government of Chile, and ILO-IPEC have developed a 2002 – 2004 regional plan to combat child labor.2809

In 1997, the Presidency of the Republic, through its Secretariat of Social Action, began the implementation of a four-year program to improve the quality of the lives of children and adolescent street workers.2810 In July 2000, the Ministry of Education and Culture initiated a five-year program to strengthen basic education reform.2811 The Ministry of Public Health's Social Welfare Office has developed on-going programs that offer financial help to vulnerable groups including street children.2812 The government also gave funds to all regional departments in 1999 and 2000 to establish school feeding programs.2813

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 1999, UNICEF estimated that 6.2 percent of children ages 5 to 14 years were working in Paraguay.2814 According to the Ministry of Labor and Justice, 23 percent of children in urban areas work and the corresponding rate in rural areas is 44 percent.2815 Data from the National Census indicates that nearly two-thirds of child workers are boys and more than one-third are girls.2816 Children sell newspapers and sundries, clean car windows, and work in family enterprises and alongside their parents in fields.2817 Poor families often send their daughters to work as domestic servants in the homes of friends or relatives in exchange for room, board and financial support for schooling.2818 There are reports that in 2000 and 2001, traffickers reportedly lured girls from Paraguay to Argentina to work as models or domestic servants, then forced the girls into prostitution.2819 Paraguay is also a country of destination for girls trafficked from other countries in the South America region for purposes of commercial sexual exploitation.2820 There have been allegations that children from rural areas have been forced to use falsified identification documents to enlist in the armed forces.2821

The General Education Law establishes free and compulsory basic education for nine years.2822 In 1998, the gross primary enrollment rate was 115.5 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 91.7 percent.2823 Primary school attendance rates are unavailable for Paraguay. While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect a child's participation in school.2824 The Ministry of Labor and Justice reports that only 50 percent of children who start the first grade complete the primary level, and in rural areas, the completion rate drops to 10 percent.2825

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Code sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years.2826 The Child and Adolescent Code prohibits children between the ages of 14 and 18 from working underground, underwater, or under any other conditions that might be physically, mentally or morally dangerous or harmful to their well being.2827 Children between the ages of 14 and 16 may not work in excess of four hours a day and 24 hours a week. Children ages 16 to 18 may not work more than six hours a day and 36 hours a week.2828 The Code also makes it unlawful to contract children for domestic work outside of Paraguay.2829

The Constitution prohibits any form of slavery, repression or trade in human beings.2830 The commercial sexual exploitation of children and adolescents, and the production or distribution of pornographic publications, are prohibited under the Child and Adolescent's Code.2831 The Penal Code prohibits any individual from putting the life or liberty of another individual in danger by forcing, tricking or coercing a person to leave the country, and it proscribes legal punishments for individuals who prostitute children under the age of 18.2832 In cases in which a crime, such as trafficking in persons, is committed abroad by a Paraguayan national, Paraguay's criminal law allows for extraterritorial jurisdiction.2833 It is an offense to induce a person under 18 years of age into prostitution.2834 If the perpetrator acts for profit or if the victim is under 14, the penalty can increase.2835

The Ministry of Labor and Justice's Director General for the Protection of Minors is responsible for enforcing child labor laws. The government does not have sufficient resources to effectively enforce regulations on the minimum age for employment.2836 Child victims of prostitution are often treated as offenders in detention centers and it is rare for clients or individuals who profit from prostitution to be caught or sanctioned.2837

The Government of Paraguay has not ratified ILO Convention 138, but ratified ILO Convention 182 on March 3, 2001.2838

2806 Government of Paraguay, Information on Efforts by Paraguay to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor, Ministry of Justice, Viceministry of Labor and Social Security, National Employment Service Bureau, International Affairs, October 24, 2001, 2.

2807 ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Elimination of Child Domestic Labour in South America, project document, RLA/00/ P53/USA, Geneva, September 2000, cover page. See also ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Elimination of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents, project document, RLA/00/P55/USA, Geneva, September 2000.

2808 El Mercado Común del Sur. The Common Market of the South (America). Member countries include Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. MERCOSUR, La Página Oficial del MERCOSUR: Antecedentes del MERCOSUR, [online] [cited November 12, 2002]; available from

2809 Cristina Borrajo, "Mercosur y Chile: una agenda conjunta contra el trabajo infantil: La defensa de la niñez más allá de las fronteras," Encuentros: Boletín Electronico del Programa Internacional para la Erradicación del Trabajo Infantil, IPEC-Sudamérica 2, 6, (August 2002), [cited August 23, 2002]; available from 260ameri/oitreg/activid/proyectos/ipec/boletin/numero6/ipeacciondos.html.

2810 232 technical assistance projects were approved, benefiting nearly 72,000 children and adolescent street workers for a total of USD 9.3 million from an IDB grant and USD 1.6 million from the Paraguayan government. Inter-American Development Bank, Perfíl II: Paraguay, online, September 2001, 4-5 [cited August 23, 2002]; available from

2811 Inter-American Development Bank, Program to Strengthen Basic Education Reform, online, [cited August 23, 2002]; available from

2812 World Bank, Project Appraisal Document on a Proposed Loan in the Amount of US $9.0 Million to the Republic of Paraguay for a Paraguay Pilot Community Development Project, online, 23688-PA, Washington, D.C., March 4, 2002, 8 [cited August 23, 2002]; available from 03/22//000094946_02030704010785/Rendered/PDF/multi0page.pdf. See also United Nations Development Programme, El Gasto Público en Servicios Sociales Básicos en Paraguay: Análisis desde la Perspectiva de la Iniciativa 20/20: Estudio elaborado por el Sistema de las Naciones Unidas, online, Asunción, September 2000, [cited October 9, 2002]; available from

2813 The World Food Programme, "Paraguay: Disbelief and Economic Setbacks," in Global School Feeding Report 2002, 2002, 43-44.

2814 Government of Paraguay, Encuesta Permanente de Hogares (EPH), see "Percentage of Children in the Expanded Population Working Only and Working and Studying, by Sex and Age" [cited August 27, 2002]; available from

2815 Government of Paraguay, Information on Efforts by Paraguay, 1.

2816 ILO-IPEC, Plan Subregional para la Erradicación del Trabajo Infantil en los países del Mercosur y Chile, online, 12 [cited October 9, 2002]; available from documentos/folletomercosur.doc.

2817 U. S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2001: Paraguay, Washington, D.C., March 4, 2002, 3000-02, Section 6d [cited December 20, 2002]; available from 8297.htm.

2818 Ibid., Section 6c.

2819 Ibid., Section 6f.

2820 "News from Brazil," Brazilian Justice and Peace Service, 244 (September 12, 1996), [cited October 9, 2002]; available from See also Protection Project, "Paraguay," in Human Rights Report on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, March 2002, [cited October 9, 2002]; available from

2821 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Paraguay," in Global Report 2001, 2001, [cited December 31, 2002]; available from 4193c336ce2b1d9a80256b1e00560cb8?OpenDocument.

2822 Government of Paraguay, Legislación juvenil en Paraguay: Ley General de Educación, [cited October 9, 2002]; available from See also U.S. Embassy – Asunción, unclassified telegram no. 1276, September 2001.

2823 World Bank, World Development Indicators 2002 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2002.

2824 For a more detailed discussion on the relationship between education statistics and work, see the preface to this report.

2825 Government of Paraguay, Information on Efforts by Paraguay, 1.

2826 Government of Paraguay, Código del Trabajo, Ley Núm. 213, que establece el Código del Trabajo, [cited October 9, 2002]; available from

2827 Government of Paraguay, Código de la Niñez y la Adolescencia, Ley No. 1680, Titulo II, de la Protección a los Adolescentes Trabajadores.

2828 Ibid., Capitulo II, Articulo 58.

2829 Ibid., Capitulo III, Articulo 67.

2830 Government of Paraguay, Constitución Nacional, Parte I, Titulo II, De los Derechos, de los Deberes y de las Garantías, Seccion III, Capítulo II, De la Libertad, Articulo 10, De la Proscripción de la Esclavitud y Otras Servidumbres, [cited October 9, 2002]; available from

2831 Código de la Niñez y la Adolescencia.

2832 The Penal Code calls for a jail sentence of up to 10 years. Government of Paraguay, Código Penal, Ley No. 1160, Libro Segundo, Título I, Capítulo 4, Artículo 125, Extrañamiento de Personas, Artículo 139, Proxenetismo [cited November 5, 2001]; available from libro2_titulo1_capitulo4.html.

2833 In addition, the act must be considered a crime in the country in which it was committed. See ECPAT International, Paraguay, in ECPAT International, [database online] [cited September 3, 2002], at "Protection"; available from

2834 Ibid.

2835 Ibid.

2836 U. S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Paraguay, 3000-02, Section 6d.

2837 Ibid.

2838 ILO, Ratifications by Country, in ILOLEX, [database online], [cited November 12, 2002]; available from

Search Refworld