Last Updated: Thursday, 18 January 2018, 16:17 GMT

2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Morocco

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 - Morocco, 10 September 2009, available at: [accessed 18 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, 7-14 years, 1998-1999:5,226,523
Working children, 7-14 years (%), 1998-1999:13.2
Working boys, 7-14 years (%), 1998-1999:13.5
Working girls, 7-14 years (%), 1998-1999:12.8
Working children by sector, 7-14 years (%)1998-1999:
     – Agriculture60.6
     – Manufacturing8.2
     – Services10.1
     – Other21.1
Minimum age for work:15
Compulsory education age:15
Free public education:Yes
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2007:107.2
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2007:88.8
School attendance, children 7-14 years (%), 1998:71.6
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2006:83.9
ILO Convention 138:1/6/2000
ILO Convention 182:1/26/2001
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

The majority of working children in Morocco are found on family farms. Doukala, an agricultural province in the northwest, contains the highest concentration of working children, estimated at 26.1 percent of total children working in the country. Children in rural areas are reportedly six times more likely to be working than those in urban areas. Recent inspection visits by the Moroccan Government found that many children work in the construction and carpentry sectors. Some also work for mechanics.

There are also children working as artisans, producing textiles and carpets in the industrial sector, and in other light manufacturing activities. Children also work as junior artisans in the handicraft industry, many of them beginning their work as apprentices before they reach 12 years. Some Moroccan boys are subject to involuntary servitude as apprentices for mechanics and artisans. Boys are also subject to forced labor in the construction industry.

It has been reported that 50,000 children are working as domestic servants in Morocco. These children are primarily girls, as young as 6 years. They work long hours and are often subjected to physical and verbal abuse and nonpayment of wages.

Reports indicate that approximately 7,000 street children live and work in Casablanca, with another 8,000 living in other major cities such as Marrakech, Fes, and Meknes. Street children in Morocco engage in diverse forms of work including selling cigarettes, begging, shining shoes, and washing cars. Street children are predominantly boys, though girls have been seen on the street in increasing numbers. These girls are commonly former household maids who have fled abusive employers. Street children are vulnerable to being forced into illicit activities such as prostitution and selling drugs to collect money for gang leaders.

The World Bank, ILO, and UNICEF have received official reports of child prostitution in the cities of Agadir, Meknès, Tangier, Marrakech, Fez, and Casablanca. Former child domestic servants are especially likely to engage in prostitution. Isolated cases of child pornography have been reported in the country, but the Minister of Human Rights and the Parliamentary Commission on Social Affairs indicate that it goes mostly undetected. Sex tourism of Moroccan boys and girls is a problem. Reports indicate that this is especially true in popular tourist sites that attract customers from the Gulf and Europe.

Morocco is a source country for children trafficked to the Middle East and Europe for sexual exploitation and forced labor. The internal trafficking of children remains a problem as girls are often forced into involuntary servitude as maids. Reports from UNICEF and national NGOs indicate that young girls have been recruited from rural villages in the Atlas Mountains to work as maids in cities. Unofficial reports claim that employees in some hotels have been involved in the transportation of young girls from rural to urban areas for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Children trafficked internally and abroad for sexual exploitation are usually deceived regarding the type of work that awaits them. Also, traffickers may seize their travel documents and force them to work until they have paid off travel costs and other alleged expenses. The Law on the Protection of Children states that persons under 18 years who cannot support themselves economically and whose parents cannot be reached or identified are considered eligible for adoption; adoptive parents are also entitled to a stipend from the Government. There has been some concern that girls are being adopted at higher rates than boys and that they are then allegedly being forced to work. In addition, children are also rented out to beg.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for employment in Morocco is 15 years. The minimum age restriction applies to the industrial, commercial, and agricultural sectors and extends to children working in apprenticeships and family enterprises. Children under 16 years are prohibited from working more than 10 hours per day, which includes at least a 1-hour break. Children under 16 years are also not permitted to work between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. in non-agricultural work, or between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. in agricultural activities. The law prohibits employment of children under 18 years in stone quarries or for underground work carried out in mines. Employers may not permit workers under 18 years to use products, substances, equipment, or machinery deemed potentially hazardous to their health or safety, or permit minors to perform activities that pose an extreme danger to them, exceed their capacities, or result in a breach of public morals.

The Ministry of Employment has responsibility for enforcing and implementing child labor laws. The law provides for fines to be levied against employers who actively recruit children under 15 years.

Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited by law. The minimum age for military recruitment is 18 years. The prostitution of children, child trafficking, and corruption of minors are prohibited under the law. Those found to be involved in or who fail to prevent trafficking, including government officials, are subject to fines and prison sentences of 6 months to 20 years. Anyone who incites or procures a minor under 18 years for prostitution is subject to a prison sentence of 2 to 5 years and a fine. Any person who uses violence, threats, or fraud to abduct (or attempt to abduct) a minor under 18 years, or who facilitates the abduction of a minor, may be imprisoned for 5 to 10 years. If the minor is under 12 years, the sentence is doubled.

The law enables inspectors and police to bring charges against employers of children under 15 years in all sectors, including informal activities. However, according to USDOS, the informal sector is not closely monitored by labor inspectors due to insufficient resources. None of the inspectors are exclusively focused on investigating child labor violations, and they lack the authority to inspect private residences for the presence of child domestic servants. During the first 6 months of 2008, the Ministry of Employment made 94 observations of child labor and issued 29 fines and citations for employing children under 15 years. During the same period, 616 observations were made, and 19 fines were given for illegally employing children between 15 and 18 years.

The Ministry of the Interior is responsible for implementing and enforcing anti-trafficking activities and regulations. The Government works closely with Spanish authorities to prevent human trafficking across the Strait of Gibraltar.

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

The Government is pursuing a National Action Plan to Eliminate Child Labor (2005-2015). The focus of the national plan includes improving implementation and raising awareness of child labor laws and improving basic education. Sectoral plans target children in agriculture and herding, the industrial sector (carpets and stitching), metal and auto work, construction, the hospitality industry and food production, street children, and children subjected to commercial sexual exploitation. The Government has also opened centers in Casablanca and Marrakech to help street children and victims of sexual exploitation, violence, and abuse. In March 2008, the Government of Morocco committed USD 2.6 million to improve the income-generating capacity of poor families at risk of sending their children to work as domestic laborers.

The Government of Morocco is participating in a USDOL-funded 3-year USD 3 million project to combat the worst forms of child labor. The project is implemented by Management Systems International and aims to withdraw 4,000 children and prevent 4,000 children from the worst forms of child labor. The Government of Morocco participated in a USDOL-funded USD 3.1 million, 4.5-year (August 2003 to March 2008) project to combat the worst forms of child labor, primarily among child domestic workers. The project withdrew or prevented 11,882 children from exploitive labor. The Government of Morocco participated in a USDOL-funded, USD 2,251,000, 4.5-year, ILO-IPEC-implemented project to combat rural child labor. By its conclusion in June 2008, the project had withdrawn 3,994 and prevented 7,868 children from the worst forms of child labor.

The Government of Morocco is participating in two additional ILO-IPEC implemented projects. The French Government is providing USD 4,834,600 in funding for a 3-year (November 2006 to December 2009) ILO-IPEC regional Francophone Africa project to contribute to the abolition of child labor. The project is operating in Benin, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. UNDP-Spain Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund is providing funding for a USD 711,500 3-year (July 2008 to June 2011) multisectoral project to combat gender-based violence through empowering boys and girls. According to Morocco's Ministry of Justice, public prosecutors and judges are provided with training on human trafficking issues. Additionally, the Government provides training on human trafficking issues to its consular officials, and each of Morocco's 20 tribunals has received training specifically related to trafficking in children. Morocco's Ministry of Interior has also reported that border security officials and territorial police officers have had training on human trafficking issues.

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