Table 10: Children’s Health and Freedom from Economic or Sexual Exploitation

Examples of Human Rights Violations

  • Recruitment of children in domestic services, agriculture, and mining.
  • The minimum age of employment is lower than the age of compulsory schooling, or lower than international standards.
  • High incidence of child labour and sex trafficking, with a harmful impact on the education and health of children.
  • Limited action to combat sexual exploitation and abuse of children, including rare prosecution of traffickers.
Human Rights Standards Treaty Body Interpretation
CRC 32(1): States Parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.

(2): States Parties shall take legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to ensure the implementation of the present article. To this end, and having regard to the relevant provisions of other international instruments, States Parties shall in particular:(a) Provide for a minimum age or minimum ages for admission to employment; (b) Provide for appropriate regulation of the hours and conditions of employment; (c) Provide for appropriate penalties or other sanctions to ensure the effective enforcement of the present article.

CRC Committee: Calling on Bulgaria to introduce monitoring mechanisms to ensure the enforcement of labor laws and protect children from economic exploitation. CRC/C/BGR/CO/2 (CRC, 2008), para. 60.

CRC Committee: Expressing concern over the high incidence of child labor in Bhutan CRC/C/SR.1369 (CRC, 2008), para. 66; Syria CRC/C/SYR/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2012), para. 76; Madagascar CRC/C/MDG/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2012), para. 59; Costa Rica CRC/C/CRI/CO/4 (CRC, 2011), para. 73; Egypt CRC/C/EGY/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2011), para. 78; and Burkina Faso CRC/C/BFA/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2010), para. 68.

CRC Committee: Expressing concern that in Singapore, the minimum age of employment is lower than the age of compulsory schooling. CRC/C/SGP/CO/2-3 (CRC, 2010), para. 62.

CRC 34: States Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. For these purposes, States Parties shall in particular take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent: (a) The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity; (b) The exploitative use of children in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices; (c) The exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials. CRC Committee: Expressing concern on trafficking and sexual exploitation of children in Austria. CRC/C/OPSC/AUT/1, CRC 2009, para. 16; Burkina Faso CRC/C/BFA/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2010), para. 72; and the lack of physical and psychosocial rehabilitation services for victims in Egypt CRC/C/EGY/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2011), para. 82.

CRC Committee: Recommending increased efforts to prevent and combat sexual exploitation, prostitution and child abuse in Bulgaria CRC/C/BGR/CO/2 (CRC, 2008), para. 64 and Bhutan CRC/C/SR.1369 (CRC, 2008).

CRC Committee: Recommending that increase protection provided to sexually exploited and trafficked children, who should be treated as victims and not criminalized. Serbia CRC/C/SRB/CO/1 (CRC, 2008), para. 72.

CRC Committee: Expressing serious concern at the lack of available CRC Committee: noting with concern that Singapore has taken limited action to combat sexual exploitation and abuse of children, including child sex tourism. CRC/C/SGP/CO/2-3 (CRC, 2010), para. 64.

Human Rights Standards Treaty Body Interpretation
ICESCR 10(3): Special measures of protection and assistance should be taken on behalf of all children and young persons without any discrimination for reasons of parentage or other conditions. Children and young persons should be protected from economic and social exploitation. Their employment in work harmful to their morals or health or dangerous to life or likely to hamper their normal development should be punishable by law. States should also set age limits below which the paid employment of child labor should be prohibited and punishable by law. CESCR: Noting with concern the prevalence of child labor, and that many are engaged in the worst forms of child labor in Ethiopia E/C.12/ETH/CO/1-3 (CESCR, 2012); India E/C.12/IND/CO/5 (CESCR, 2008); Nepal E/C.12/NPL/CO/2 (CESCR, 2008); Paraguay E/C.12/PRY/CO/3 (CESCR, 2008); Peru E/C.12/PER/CO/2-4 (CESCR, 2012); Philippines E/C.12/PHL/CO/4 (CESCR, 2008); Republic of Moldova E/C.12/MDA/CO/2 (CESCR, 2011); Sri Lanka E/C.12/LKA/CO/2-4 (CESCR, 2010); and Ukraine E/C.12/UKR/CO/5 (CESCR, 2008).

CESCR: Expressing deep concern that children work in conditions of bonded labor in India E/C.12/IND/CO/5 (CESCR, 2008), Nepal E/C.12/NPL/CO/2 (CESCR, 2008), and Cambodia E/C.12/KHM/CO/1 (CESCR, 2009).

CESCR: Noting with concern that the minimum age for admission to employment is too low in Cameroon and E/C.12/CMR/CO/2-3 (CESCR, 2012); Peru E/C.12/PER/CO/2-4 (CESCR, 2012); and Turkey E/C.12/TUR/CO/1 (CESCR, 2011)

CESCR: Calling on States to intensify the efforts to combat trafficking in human beings, especially women and children, for purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Cambodia E/C.12/KHM/CO/1 (CESCR, 2009); Dominican Republic E/C.12/DOM/CO/3 (CESCR, 2010); and Benin E/C.12/BEN/CO/2 (CESCR, 2008).

CESCR: Recommending close monitoring of the number of women and children trafficked to, from and through territory each year in Costa Rica E/C.12/CRI/CO/4 (CESCR, 2008); Hungry E/C.12/HUN/CO/3 (CESCR, 2008); Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia E/C.12/MKD/CO/1 (CESCR, 2008).

CESCR: Noting that in India, trafficking in persons remains a serious problem; women and children belonging to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes make up a large proportion of victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation; victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation, rather than being afforded protection and rehabilitation, are prosecuted under the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act (ITPA); and that there is no legislation that specifically criminalizes trafficking in persons. E/C.12/IND/CO/5 (CESCR, 2008).

CESCR: Noting with concern that in Sri Lanka thousands of children remain sexually abused and exploited including in child sex tourism; perpetrators of child sexual exploitation and abuse, including child traffickers are rarely prosecuted, while child victims may still be excluded from protection of the law and placed on remand for conducting prostitution. E/C.12/LKA/CO/2-4 (CESCR, 2010).

CEDAW 11: States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of employment in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, the same rights, in particular:(f) The right to protection of health and to safety in working conditions. CEDAW Committee: Expressing concern at the persistence of child labor in Guatemala. CEDAW/C/GUA/CO/7 (CEDAW, 2009).

CEDAW Committee: Recommending that El Salvador strengthen efforts to eradicate child labor and support education as a means of empowering girls and boys, so as to ensure that there is a clear understanding of and effective compliance with the minimum working age throughout the State party. CEDAW/C/SLV/CO/7 (CEDAW, 2008).

Human Rights Standards Treaty Body Interpretation
CEDAW 6: States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women. CEDAW Committee: Calling on State Parties to intensify their efforts to combat all forms of trafficking in Bhutan CEDAW/C/BTN/CO/7 (CEDAW, 2009), Tunisia CEDAW/C/TUN/CO/6 (CEDAW, 2010), Niger CEDAW/C/NER/CO/2 (CEDAW, 2007), Vietnam CEDAW/C/VNM/CO/6 (CEDAW, 2007), Tajikistan CEDAW/C/TJK/CO/3 (CEDAW, 2007); Belarus CEDAW/C/BLR/CO/7 (CEDAW, 2011); and Cape Verde CEDAW/C/CPV/CO/6 (CEDAW, 2006).

CEDAW Committee: Expressing concern at the proliferation of sex tourism in Mauritius, essentially generating sexual exploitation of women and girls and augmenting the vulnerability of sex workers. CEDAW/C/MUS/CO/6-7 (CEDAW, 2011).

CEDAW Committee: Expressing concern about the low number of prosecutions and the lenient sentences imposed on traffickers in Montenegro; the limited capacity of the competent authorities to identify (potential) victims of trafficking, including women and girls from vulnerable groups; and the lack of victim protection and compensation. CEDAW/C/MNE/CO/1 (CEDAW, 2011).

CEDAW Committee: Recommending that Chad amend the Criminal Code so as to include trafficking in persons as an offence, and to consider adopting a comprehensive law against trafficking in persons, in line with the Palermo Protocol, in order to fully implement article 6 of the Convention, and to ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted and punished and victims adequately protected and assisted. CEDAW/C/TCD/CO/1-4 (CEDAW, 2011).

Human Rights Standards Case Law
ECHR 4(1): No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.(2): No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labor.  ECtHR: Holding that France’s criminal code did not practically and effectively protect 15-year old Siliadin from slavery and servitude in violation of Article 4 of the ECHR. Siliadin, a 15-year old girl of Togolese origin, arrived in France with Mrs. D, a French national of Togolese origin, on a tourist visa. It had been agreed that Siliadin would work at Mrs. D’s home until the cost of her airfare had been reimbursed and that Mrs. D would enroll her in school and take care of her immigration matters. Instead, Mr. and Mrs. D. took Siliadin’s passport and forced her to work as an unpaid housemaid. She was later “lent” to Mr. and Mrs. B, who decided to “keep her” as an unpaid housemaid and child caretaker, working 15 hour days, seven days a week. She was not paid, not sent to school and her immigration matters were never handled. The Court found that France had violated Article 4 of the ECHR by not actively protecting its citizens from economic exploitation. Siliadin v. France, Judgement, merits and just satisfaction, 73316/01 (October 27, 2005).

Other Interpretations 

The Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (OPSC). The OPSC criminalizes specific acts relating to the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, including attempt and complicity. It lays down minimum standards for protecting child victims in criminal justice processes and recognizes the right of victims to seek compensation.

SR on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (SR Sale of Children): regarding the situation of Roma children, authorities in Greece are called upon to take specific measures to improve living conditions and possibilities for development of Roma communities to give Roma children alternatives other than work on streets or prostitution, as survival strategies for them and their families. E/CN.4/2006/67/Add.3 (SR Sale of Children, 2006).

SR Sale of Children: Recommending to Greece that specialized staff with adequate expertise to work with foreign unaccompanied minors, street children, and victims of trafficking is needed to ensure child’s physical and psychological health, protection against exploitation and access to educational and vocational skills and opportunity. E/CN.4/2006/67/Add.3 (SR Sale of Children, 2006).

SR Sale of Children: Calling on the government of the United Arab Emirates to urgently regularize the situation of the bidoon children with a view to ensuring that they have access to health and education and thus decreasing their vulnerability to sexual exploitation.
A/HRC/16/57/Add.2 (SR Sale of Children, 2010).

SR on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, Including its Causes and Consequences: Recommending that the government of Romania a) Develop additional programmes to support the implementation of the legislation relevant to the worst forms of child labor and other exploitative slave-like situations, emphasizing the role of individual state agencies and providing them with the necessary funding; and (b) Take further appropriate and effective measures to ensure equal enjoyment of human rights by Roma by further promoting equal access of Roma children to education, thereby contributing to prevent them from being engaged in the worst forms of child labor, and as well as to right to housing, health care and employment. A/HRC/18/30/Add.1 (SR Slavery, 2011).

ILO Convention No. 138 related to the minimum age of employment: 

Article 2(3). The minimum age specified in pursuance of paragraph 1 of this Article shall not be less than the age of completion of compulsory schooling and, in any case, shall not be less than 15 years.

Article 3(1). The minimum age for admission to any type of employment or work which by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out is likely to jeopardize the health, safety or morals of young persons shall not be less than 18 years.

Article 7(1). National laws or regulations may permit the employment or work of persons 13 to 15 years of age on light work which is: a) Not likely to be harmful to their health or development; and b) Not such as to prejudice their attendance at school, their participation in vocational orientation or training programs approved by the competent authority or their capacity to benefit from the instruction received.

ILO Convention No. 182 (1999) concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour