The “new law” & child labour in Bolivia


For about two years Bolivia allows children as young as 10 to work legally which has led to sharp criticism from many international human rights groups – what has changed for the children since?

While most of the world is trying to diminish child labour, Bolivia has become the first nation to legalize it from age 10 last summer. Supporters of the legislation said that the law guarantees legal protections and fair wages for children, who have been working regardless of laws against it. Under the legislation, 10-year-olds will be able to work as long as they are under parental supervision and also attend school. It sets 12 as the minimum age for a child to work under contract.

A 2008 study carried out by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Bolivian government found that 850,000 children ages 5 to 17 were working in Bolivia,

roughly half in the countryside and half in the cities. UNICEF and the ILO have led an international chorus against passing the law. Human Rights Watch has been scathing, with its chief child rights advocate claiming the new rules are “counter-productive” and may “perpetuate poverty”. How is the situation today for the children in Bolivia?

Toby Binder was born in 1977. His work focuses on social documentaries in Africa and South America. He has been published by Amnesty Journal, Foreign Policy, Greenpeace-Magazin, der Spiegel, Stern, UNICEF & die Zeit and others.

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