Last Updated: Friday, 15 December 2017, 16:28 GMT

2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Peru

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 - Peru, 10 September 2009, available at: [accessed 15 December 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, 6-14 years, 2000:5,420,818
Working children, 6-14 years (%), 2000:22.3
Working boys, 6-14 years (%), 2000:24.0
Working girls, 6-14 years (%), 2000:20.5
Working children by sector, 6-14 years (%), 2000:
     – Agriculture73.2
     – Manufacturing2.7
     – Services23.9
     – Other0.2
Minimum age for work:14
Compulsory education age:14*
Free public education:Yes**
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2006:116.4
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2006:96.3
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2000:96.6
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2005:89.5
ILO Convention 138:11/13/2002
ILO Convention 182:1/10/2002
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes

* Age is approximate, education is compulsory through secondary school

** In practice, must pay for various school expenses

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In rural areas of Peru, children work in agriculture, including in the production of coca, which the law permits to be grown in small amounts by licensed growers. Children also work in the production of gold and fireworks. Children, mainly girls, work in domestic service in third-party homes in both rural and urban areas. In urban areas, many children work as street vendors and street performers, beggars, bus assistants, shoe shiners, artisans, car washers, or scavengers in garbage dumps. Children are also found working in the brick-making industry in Lima and outlying areas.

According to a recent ILO study, girls who work in the mining industry are sexually exploited. Children in domestic service are also vulnerable to sexual abuse. Some Peruvian children, especially girls from the poorest areas of Peru, are trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation and domestic service through false offers of employment. According to USDOS, some children are also trafficked internally for forced labor. Child sex tourism is prevalent in the Amazon region of the country. Peru's Ministry of Labor estimated that 5,000 children worked under forced labor conditions in the production of cocaine. Children, along with their families, are trafficked from Chile to Peru and Bolivia to work in agriculture.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

Although the general minimum age for employment in Peru is 14 years, the following provisions place restrictions on the ability of children 14 years and above to work legally. The minimum age for employment in nonindustrial agricultural work is 15 years; for work in the industrial, commercial, and surface mining sectors is 16 years; and for work in the industrial fishing sector is 17 years. Children under 18 years must provide authorities with proof of their health and confirmation from the employer that the work does not limit the child's ability to attend school. All children under 18 years must register their work with the authorities and must be issued a permit from the Ministry of Labor. The Ministry of Labor's Office of Labor Protection for Minors has the authority to investigate reports of illegal child labor practices by conducting onsite inspections of worksites. During 2008, the Ministry of Labor issued 851 work permits to children above the minimum legal age. The Ministry of Labor employs 68 inspectors specializing in child labor. The Office of the Ombudsman for Children and Adolescents kept track of violations of child labor laws and operated a reporting and tracking system.

Children 12 to 14 years are prohibited from working more than 4 hours a day, or more than 24 hours a week; adolescents 15 to 17 years may not work more than 6 hours a day, or more than 36 hours a week. Children working nonpaid jobs for family members or in domestic service are entitled to a 12-hour rest period and must attend school. Night work is prohibited for children under 18 years, but a special permit can be issued for adolescents between 15 to 17 years for a maximum of 4 hours of work a night. Underground work or work that involves heavy lifting, toxic substances, or responsibility for the safety of themselves and other workers is prohibited for children under 18 years. The Government has established a list of dangerous work for children, which includes work underground, using machinery or electrical equipment, with toxic chemicals, in brick production, at sea, selling alcohol, in sexually exploitive situations, with garbage, with animal remains, or lifting heavy weights.

Peruvian law prohibits forced and slave labor. The law prohibits promoting child prostitution, with a penalty of 5 to 12 years in prison if the victim is under 18 years. Peru's Penal Code also prohibits delivering a child to a third party for the purpose of prostitution; the penalty for this offense is 6 to 12 years in prison. The penalty for profiting economically from the prostitution of a minor 14 to 18 years of age is 6 to 10 years in prison, and increases to 8 to 12 years in prison if the victim is under 14 years of age. Statutes prohibit trafficking in persons and provide penalties of 12 to 20 years of imprisonment for those who move a person between 14 and 18 years, either within the country or to an area outside the country, for sexual exploitation or forced labor. The penalty increases to at least 25 years in prison if the victim is under 14 years. The Administrative Authority of Work has the authority to levy fines against employers who are guilty of trafficking minors. The penalty for promoting sexual tourism that exploits adolescents 14 to 18 years is 2 to 6 years in prison. The penalty is 6 to 8 years if the victim is under 14 years, and in cases of involvement by a public official or a child's guardian, the penalty is 8 to 10 years in prison. The penalty for possessing, promoting, producing, or selling child pornography is 4 to 6 years' imprisonment and fines. If the victim is under 14 years, the penalty increases to 6 to 8 years in prison and fines. Military service is voluntary for adults 18 years and above.

The Peruvian National Police's Trafficking Investigation Unit investigated 30 cases of trafficking in persons, rescued 56 victims, and arrested 15 suspected traffickers during the reporting period. However, according to USDOS, Peru's efforts to prosecute offenders, identify victims, and provide proper protection need to be strengthened. In addition, a lack of cooperation across law enforcement agencies on local and national levels created barriers to investigation.

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

Through the National Committee to Prevent and Eradicate Child Labor, the Government of Peru works with NGOs, labor unions, and employer organizations within the country to implement the National Plan for the Prevention and Eradication of Child Labor. The Plan, established in accordance with the National Plan of Action for Children, focuses on three strategic goals: preventing and eradicating child labor among children under 14 years, preventing and eradicating the worst forms of child labor among children under 18 years and protecting the wellbeing of adolescent workers between 14 and 18 years.

The National Intersectoral Commission for the Eradication of Forced Labor managed a program during the reporting period in Huachipa targeting 150 children working in the brick-making sector. The National Police implemented a program called Colibrí (hummingbird) which integrates children who work as vendors in the street or in markets into educational programs.

Ministry of Women and Social Development (MIMDES) has a National Plan against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Boys, Girls and Adolescents. The Plan has four strategic components: establish and strengthen institutions, increase awareness about commercial sexual exploitation of children, establish a system to monitor and penalize perpetrators, and develop a system to support victims.

The Government of Peru continues to participate in a four-year USD 5 million USDOL-funded project to combat child labor implemented by the International Youth Foundation. This project targets 5,250 children for withdrawal and 5,250 children for prevention from exploitive work in the urban informal sector in Lima, Callao, Trujillo, and Iquitos. During the reporting period, the Government of Peru participated in a four-year ILO-IPEC Phase III USD 3 million regional project to eradicate child labor in Latin America, funded by the Government of Spain. In cooperation with the Government, several NGOs implemented projects funded by USDOS to combat trafficking in persons totaling USD 300,000. The Government of Peru is participating in a USDOL-funded 4-year 1.6 million ILO-IPEC project to conduct data collection on child labor.

During the reporting period, the Ministry of Trade and Tourism led a campaign against child sex tourism and trafficking. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided training to consular officials on trafficking. MIMDES worked with the Belgian Government to combat trafficking in four regions of Peru. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs conducted an information campaign on trafficking, distributing materials to domestic passport offices and consular offices abroad.

The Government of Peru 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. Peru's Ministry of Trade and 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 Ministries of Tourism from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

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