2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Botswana

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor
Population, children, 5-14 years:
Working children, 5-14 years (%):
Working boys, 5-14 years (%):
Working girls, 5-14 years (%):
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:14
Compulsory education age:15
Free public education:No
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:107.0
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:84.0
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%):
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2004:83.0
ILO Convention 138:6/5/1997
ILO Convention 182:1/3/2000
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes

* Accession

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Children in Botswana work in agriculture, predominately in subsistence farming, and as street vendors, car washers, and scrap metal collectors. Children also work in domestic service, the performing arts, and family businesses. Boys and girls tend to engage in different types of work. Boys herd cattle and other livestock, and girls are employed in restaurants, nightclubs, and grocery stores. Reports indicate that some children are exploited in prostitution, particularly in bus and railway stations, truck stops, and near hotels. In addition, there are unconfirmed reports that Botswana is a country of transit for East African children trafficked into South Africa. Some children are also employed in liquor stores.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for basic employment at 14 years and for hazardous work at 18 years. Under the law, children not attending school who have reached 14 years may be employed by family members or, as approved by the Commissioner of Labor, in light work that is not harmful to their health and development for no more than 6 hours per day and 30 hours per week. Children, defined as those under 15 years, may not work more than 3 consecutive hours, and young persons, defined as those between 15 and 17 years, may not work more than 4 hours in industrial undertakings without a rest period of 30 minutes, absent the express permission of the Commissioner of Labor. Children and young persons may not be employed in underground work, night work, or any work that is harmful to their health and development. The maximum penalty for illegally employing a child is imprisonment for up to 12 months and/or a fine.

The law prohibits forced labor. The law does not explicitly prohibit trafficking in persons. Separate statutes, however, that make kidnapping, slave trading, and procuring children for prostitution illegal could be used to prosecute trafficking cases. Child pornography is a criminal offense under the law. Sex with a child under the age of 16 is punishable by a 10-year minimum prison sentence. The law specifically protects adopted children from being exploited for labor and orphans from being coerced into prostitution. The law states that military service is voluntary and that potential recruits must appear to be 18 before they can enlist in the armed forces.

The Ministry of Labor and Home Affairs, as well as the child welfare divisions of the district and municipal councils, are responsible for enforcing child labor laws. The Commissioner of Labor is also authorized to eliminate the employment of children. According to USDOS, law enforcement and immigration officials receive regular training in anti-trafficking methods. In 2008, there were no reports of prosecutions, convictions, or fines for exploitive child labor.

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

In 2008, the Government of Botswana collaborated with local organizations to raise public awareness of child labor issues and hosted conferences on human trafficking issues. The Government participated in a regional project funded by USDOL and implemented by the American Institutes for Research. This 4-year, USD 9 million project aimed to improve the quality and access to education for children who are working in, or are at risk of working in, the worst forms of child labor in five countries, including Botswana. Over its lifetime, the project withdrew 2,388 children and prevented 8,739 children in five countries, including Botswana, from engaging in exploitive labor. The Government also participated in another regional project funded by USDOL and implemented by ILO-IPEC. This 4-year USD 5 million project drafted national child labor plans of action and conducted targeted research on the worst forms of child labor in five countries, including Botswana. The Government of Botswana is participating in a USD 4.75 million regional project funded by USDOL and implemented by ILO-IPEC to support the implementation of national child labor plans in three countries, including Botswana. Over 4 years, this project aims to withdraw 2,800 children and prevent 5,600 children in three countries, including Botswana, from engaging in exploitive labor.

During 2008, the Government released the results of a module on children's activities in its 2005/2006 National Labor Force Survey, which helped identify the extent and location of child labor in Botswana. As of this writing, data were not available to UCW for analysis for use in this report. For information on data used in this report, please see the data sources and definitions section.


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