Child Labour

What do you know about FAQ concerning Child Labour in Uganda? Find out information on child exploitation, child slaves, child labour age, child labour act, causes of child labour



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What age defines a child in Uganda?

A child in Uganda’s Constitution is defined as any person who is below 18 years of age.

What is Child Labour?

The definition of Child Labour is derived from the International Labor Organization, (ILO)
Convention No. 138, (1973), on the minimum age of employment; and the ILO Convention No. 182, (1999), on the worst forms of Child Labour. Both of these Conventions are compementary to the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, (UNCRC).

The UNCRC stipulates that children should be protected from economic exploitation and any work that is hazardous, interferes with schooling, or is harmful to their health and

Do children work in Uganda?

There are many working children in Uganda. Many of these working children are aged between 10-14 years. Some are in the 15 – 17 year age group. Some are less than 10 years old. Findings indicate that most of the working children have attended some formal education. Although this is the case, findings further indicate that still one in every five working children had no formal education.

This implies that these children have very few options and are therefore prone to
exploitation and poor conditions of work.

Where do they work?

Some of the working children work at their employer’s premises or “sites”, whereas some work in plantations, crop farming or doing unskilled manual labour. Many of the working children are engaged in domestic duties. Girls are more likely to engage in domestic work than boys.

Some children beg, wash cars, scavenge, work in the commercial sex industry, and sell small  items on the streets.

Other hazardous activities include construction (particularly brick baking), sand and gold 
mining, and stone crushing.

What is Child Trafficking?

The recruitment, movement and eventual exploitation of children occurs within Uganda as well as across the borders. Child trafficking is increasingly becoming a major area of concern.

The children can end up working as child domestic workers (CDWs), street beggars, bar and restaurant attendants, sex workers, strippers and vendors. Others work at fish landing sites or on agricultural plantations.

What is Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC)?

Commercial sexual exploitation of children is among the worst forms of Child Labour. The exact numbers of children who are sexually exploited is not known owing to the hidden nature of the practice. Children exploited in commercial sex often suffer exploitation at the hands of caregivers comprising parents/guardians, teachers and others who are responsible for looking after children.

Whatever the source of exploitation, the consequences are usually severe. They include psycho-social problems, early pregnancy, sexually-transmitted infections (STIs), dropping out of school and early entry into work where girls, particularly, suffer a vicious cycle of exploitation and poverty. The retrospective survey carried out by the African Child Policy Forum (2006) established that 89% of Ugandan girls faced verbal sexual abuse.

What about Children in Domestic Work (CDW)?

Child Domestic Work (CDW) is one of the most common practices in Uganda. Child domestic workers experience different forms of abuse and exploitation.
They lack clear terms of service from their employers, they are usually over worked, not
paid or underpaid. Child domestic workers, particularly girls, are prone to the risk of
sexual exploitation by male employers and boys in the homes where they work.

Children who are employed as domestic workers are deprived of an opportunity to go to school or enroll in any form of productive skills training.

The adoption of a new international labour standard on promoting decent work for domestic workers, which calls for its ratification and implementation, provides an opportunity to support initiatives on decent work for child domestic workers.

What is the National Child Labour Policy in Uganda?

The Policy, under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, is in the process of formulation and it defines and enumerates the socio-economic context of Child Labour in Uganda, the nature, extent and magnitude of Child Labour, causes and consequences, effects, and government response.

What is the National Plan of Action on Child Labour?

A draft Plan of Action on the Elimination of Child Labour has been adopted by the National Steering Committee and disseminated to district line offices.

What does the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda say about Child Labour?

The Constitution of Uganda, 1995, Chapter I, Article 34 (4), provides for the protection of a child from hazardous and exploitative work. The Constitution clearly spells out the
following rights for children: “Children are entitled to be protected from social and economic exploitation and should not be employed in or required to perform work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere in their education, or to be harmful to their health or physical, mental and spiritual, moral or social development.”

Are there other existing legal and related interventions to eliminate Child Labour in Uganda?

Yes. The Employment Decree, 1975 limits employment of children to a minimum 14 years of age. The Decree empowers labour inspectors to monitor compliance.

The Children’s Statute No.16, 1996 spells out the rights of a child and the welfare 
principles that guide those caring for children. Part 2, Section 9 states that: ‘”A child
has a right not to be made to work or take part in any activity whether for pay or not which is likely to injure the child’s health, education, mental and physical, or moral

Are there other practical interventions that directly or indirectly prevent Child Labour in Uganda?

Yes. Government has embarked on national Universal Primary and Secondary Education (UPE,USE) programmes, to ensure more children at primary and secondary level get access to formal education.

The Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP), The National Council for Children, (NCC), The Child Labour Unit at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MGLSD), are all streamlined directly and indirectly to address the plight of child labour in Uganda.

What action can be taken if a child is illegally employed?

According to the National Action Plan Against the worst Forms of Child Labour 2013/2013- 2016/2017, actions include withdrawal, rehabilitation, and integration of the affected children within the framework of their families and or communities.

Are there any exceptions to the laws pertaining to child labour in Uganda?

Yes. The Employment Decree, 1975 limited employment of children between 12-18 years of age and prevented (prohibited) it for children below 12 years of age. (Part IV) The Decree however, restricted employment for those aged 12-18 years and empowered labour inspectors to monitor compliance. This law has however since been revised, and the minimum age for employment of children was raised to 14 years.

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