2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Honduras

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor
Population, children, 5-14 years, 2004:1,941,242
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2004:5.4
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2004:8.2
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2004:2.6
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%), 2004:
     – Agriculture63.3
     – Manufacturing8.3
     – Services26.5
     – Other1.9
Minimum age for work:14/16
Compulsory education age:15
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2007:116.8
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2007:96.4
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2004:84.7
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2006:66.5
ILO Convention 138:6/9/1980
ILO Convention 182:10/25/2001
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes

* In practice, must pay for various school expenses

** Accession

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

A May 2008 census by the National Statistics Institute of Honduras reported that the majority of working children in Honduras work in agriculture, forestry, hunting, and fishing. Children, especially boys, predominantly work in rural rather than urban areas. Children work in melon, coffee, lime, limestone, and sugarcane production, and as deckhands and divers in the lobster industry. Children work in mining, selling goods, begging, and scavenging in garbage dumps. Children, predominantly girls, also work as domestic servants, where they are sometimes subject to abuse by third-party employers.

Commercial sexual exploitation of children is especially problematic in border areas, in major cities, such as Tegucigalpa, and in tourist areas, such as San Pedro Sula and the Bay Islands. Honduras is a transit and source country for children trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation. Honduran children are trafficked internally, usually from rural to urban settings. Children are also trafficked internationally to neighboring countries, often while en route to the United States.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

Honduran laws governing the minimum age for work are conflictive. Although the Constitution and the Labor Code both set the minimum age for work at 16 years, children may be authorized to work with parental consent when it is indispensable for the subsistence of the family and does not interfere with the child's education. Furthermore, a 2007 Government analysis of the legal minimum age for employment placed the minimum age at 14 years. Additionally, the Childhood and Adolescence Code and the Child Labor Regulation assert that no child under 14 years will be authorized to work. All minors between 14 and 18 years of age must receive authorization to work from the Secretary of State or the Office of Labor and Social Security, and businesses employing children must have a child labor registry.

The legal work hours for adolescents are also in conflict. While the Constitution prohibits children under 17 years from working more than 6 hours per day and 30 hours per week, the Childhood and Adolescence Code states that minors between 14 and 16 years cannot work more than 4 hours per day, and minors 16 to 18 years of age cannot work more than 6 hours per day. Night work is prohibited for children under 18 years.

The Child Labor Regulation and the Childhood and Adolescence Code prohibit children from work that is unhealthy or dangerous, even when completed as part of a program of study. Minors, except adolescents 16 to 18 years with authorization from the Office of Labor and Social Security, cannot engage in work in static positions or on high scaffolding; underwater diving; work in tunnels or underground; agricultural work that implies health risks; work with heavy machinery, ovens, smelters, heavy presses, or glass; or in work that involves exposure to toxic substances, vehicular traffic, loud noise, high-voltage electric currents, or garbage. Furthermore, in August 2008, the Government published a list of specific activities and occupations that are considered hazardous for children under 18 years of age. Individuals who violate child labor laws may receive prison sentences of 3 to 5 years and fines. However, according to USDOS, child labor laws were not effectively enforced outside of the apparel sector, despite frequent child labor law violations.

The Child Labor Regulation prohibits all forms of slavery and practices analogous to slavery, such as the sale of adolescents, debt bondage, and forced labor, including the forced recruitment of adolescents for use in armed conflicts. Trafficking in persons under 18 years of age, inside or outside the national territory with the goal of "commercial exploitation" is sanctioned by 12 to 19 years in prison and a fine. Peacetime military service in Honduras is voluntary, and the age of enlistment is 18 years. The law also penalizes the use of children for the production or trafficking of drugs.

The Penal Code criminalizes procuring, especially the recruitment and submission of children to commercial sexual exploitation, as well as domestic and international trafficking of children for commercial sexual exploitation, with penalties of 9 to 15 years of imprisonment. Honduran law also prohibits the use of children under 18 years for exhibitions or performances of a sexual nature and in the production of pornography. Sexual tourism is punishable by 12 to 18 years of imprisonment and a fine if the victim is a minor. According to USDOS, law enforcement officials collaborate with neighboring countries and the United States on anti-trafficking efforts and child sex tourism investigations.

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

The Government of Honduras launched a National Plan of Action for the Eradication of Child Labor in May 2008 that will last 7 years. The Plan builds upon the work accomplished through the first Plan of Action (2001-2005) and involves the coordination of many government agencies. Honduras is also implementing a 5-year National Plan of Action to Eradicate Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, which was introduced in 2008. The plan aims to promote inter-institutional cooperation, justice, and assistance for child victims of commercial sexual exploitation. The Government continues to refer child victims to NGOs for care. As a member of the Central American Parliament Commission on Women, Children, Youth, and Family, the Government is participating in a regional Plan to Support the Prevention and Elimination of Human Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents.

The Government of Honduras participated in regional projects funded by USDOL, including a 7-year USD 8.8 million project implemented by ILOIPEC which concluded in April 2009 and sought to combat commercial sexual exploitation through a variety of activities, including capacity building and legal reform. In addition, the project targeted 713 children for withdrawal and 657 children for prevention from commercial sexual exploitation in Central America. The Government also participated in the 4-year USD 5.7 million Child Labor Education Initiative regional project implemented by CARE that worked to strengthen the Government and civil society's capacity to combat child labor through education and withdrew or prevented 4,105 children from exploitive child labor. During the reporting period, the Ministry of Education adopted one of the project's piloted educational models, Niño Tutor ("Child Tutor"), to implement in every school with the purpose of eliminating child labor and improving the educational attainment of children who have worked or are at risk of working.

The Government of Honduras participated in a USD 550,000 ILO-IPEC project that ended in August 2008 and was funded by the Government of Canada that focused on combating child labor through strengthening labor ministries. During the reporting period, the Government also participated in a Phase III USD 3.3 million regional project to eradicate child labor in Latin America, funded by the Government of Spain and implemented by ILOIPEC. Additionally, with the assistance of UNICEF, the National Commission for Family and Childhood publishes materials outlining the definitions, dangers, and legal regulations of child labor in Honduras.


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