2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Zambia

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor
Population, children, 5-14 years, 2005:3,253,153
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2005:33.4
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2005:34.4
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2005:32.4
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%), 2005:
     – Agriculture95.5
     – Manufacturing0.5
     – Services3.9
     – Other0.0
Minimum age for work:15
Compulsory education age:No
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2007:119.0
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2007:94.0
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2005:63.8
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2006:89.0
ILO Convention 138:2/9/1976
ILO Convention 182:12/10/2001
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes

* In practice, must pay for various school expenses

** Acceptance

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In Zambia, children work in domestic service, subsistence agriculture, and other informal sectors. In rural areas, children work in the production of tobacco, corn, and cotton; herd cattle; and sell foodstuffs. Children also work as street vendors, fishermen, and bus attendants. Boys work on farms and in gardens, cut trees, burn charcoal, carry timber, and dig wells and latrines. Girls sell goods in markets and in the streets, wash clothes, and work as maids, cooks, and waitresses. Children also work in hazardous industries, including stone crushing, mining, and construction. Children are also involved in begging and commercial sexual exploitation. Children in poverty or without parents are known to engage in prostitution. Internal human trafficking is a problem. Trafficked children, who are often female, are transported from rural to urban areas where they sell goods on the street, haul goods for merchants, work as domestic servants, or are sold for commercial sexual exploitation. Girls often agree to work as domestics with the expectation of receiving schooling in exchange, but become trafficked, without going to school and without pay. Zambian children are reportedly trafficked to Malawi, and some to Europe, for commercial sexual exploitation, agricultural labor, fishing, and domestic service. Children have reportedly been trafficked to Angola and from Malawi and Mozambique for forced labor in agriculture.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law defines a child as a person less than 15 years; a "young person" is defined as a person 15 to 18 years. The law sets the minimum age for employment at 15 years. Children 13 to 15 years can perform light work that is not harmful to the child's health or ability to attend school. Children under 18 years are forbidden from engaging in hazardous labor.

The law prohibits the worst forms of child labor, including child prostitution; slavery in all of its forms; forced military recruitment of children; and work harmful to the safety, health, or morals of children and young people. A person violating these laws is subject to a fine and imprisonment for up to 25 years.

Children under 18 years cannot be recruited into the military without the consent of a parent, guardian, or local District Secretary, at which time a child older than 16 years may serve. The law prohibits the use of children in military hostilities. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has voiced concern that the law is stated in terms of "apparent age," which could contribute to exploitive child labor in the form of underage military recruitment. Zambian law prohibits forced labor and trafficking of children. The law prescribes a penalty of 25 years to life in prison for trafficking, depending on the situation in which the person is trafficked, the age of the victim, and whether he or she was harmed or died. It is a felony for any person to sexually harass a child in the workplace or in a learning institution, with a minimum sentence of 3 years in prison for violators.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MLSS) is responsible for enforcing labor laws and has established a child labor unit. MLSS conducts inspections of workplaces and investigates child labor complaints through its 60 labor inspectors. The law gives labor inspectors the authority to enter households and agricultural fields in order to investigate potential child labor violations. The law empowers MLSS to bring child labor charges against perpetrators, which can result in a fine or imprisonment. However, labor inspectors lack resources to conduct inspections in rural areas and mines. Violators of child labor laws are provided with mediation and counseling. In April 2008, two men were sentenced to 20 and 25 years' imprisonment, respectively, for child trafficking. However, according to USDOS, a lack of technical capability and adequate financial resources prevents the Government from fully addressing problems of human trafficking.

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

The eradication of child labor is a goal of the Government of Zambia's National Development Plan and the country's Decent Work Program. The Government of Zambia conducts awareness-raising campaigns for its citizens and monitors child labor trends. The Government is working to combat trafficking, including child trafficking, through awareness raising, legal reform, and research. The Zambia Law Development Commission created a manual of the new anti-trafficking law for prosecutors and police, and held trainings in February 2009. Child labor officers are also trained in combating child trafficking and on ILO conventions.

The Zambian Government operates two camps for withdrawn and rehabilitated street children. Some graduates of the camps furthered their skills training with sponsorship from the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Vocational Training, and were reintegrated with their families. The Government continues to work with NGOs to relocate children, predominantly urban orphans, and place them in appropriate educational or vocational training settings. By the end of 2008, over 20 District Child Labor Committees had been created to perform outreach and plan activities for vulnerable and working children.

Through a USDOL-funded USD 3.92 million project, ILO-IPEC is assisting the Government with preparing a national Timebound Program against the worst forms of child labor. The 3-year project aims to withdraw 3,000 and prevent 7,000 children from exploitive work through the provision of education and training services.

The Government participated in a 4-year, USDOL-funded, USD 3 million ILO-IPEC program to combat and prevent exploitive child labor caused by or related to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Uganda and Zambia. The project withdrew 2,642 and prevented 2,072 children from exploitive child labor through community-based social protection schemes.

The Government of Zambia is also participating in a 4-year, USD 23.84 million project funded by the EU and implemented by ILO-IPEC to combat child labor through education in 11 countries.

The Government works in partnership with IOM to increase awareness on trafficking issues among government officials and the public using radio broadcasts, posters, and other materials. IOM is funding two projects and working with the Government of Zambia to combat trafficking in Southern Africa, and to build capacity for the National Victims Assistance Units in Zambia.


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