Asia & the Pacific
2012 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor
2012 Regional Outlook
- Improved legal frameworks, particularly related to child domestic service and access to education.
- Increased social programs to address child domestic service and access to education, and increased targeted monitoring of child labor.
Challenges and existing gaps:
- Lack of adequate legal protections, specifically for children in hazardous labor.
- Lack of effective intra-government coordination and enforcement.
- Lack of funding for labor inspections.
2012 Assessment Breakdown
3 countries (9%):
Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand
11 countries (34%):
Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cook Islands, India, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Kyrgyz Republic, Maldives, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste
9 countries (27%):
Afghanistan, Fiji, Mongolia, Nepal, Norfolk Island, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Tuvalu, Vanuatu
4 countries (12%):
Bhutan, Samoa, Tonga, Uzbekistan
6 countries (18%):
Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, Niue, Tokelau, Wallis and Futuna
In the Asia and Pacific region, 77.8 million children are engaged in child labor. Governments in Asia and the Pacific continued to make notable progress in combating the worst forms of child labor, particularly in the areas of legislation on and programs related to child domestic service, which is of particular concern in the region. Despite these efforts, significant obstacles remained in the areas of legal protections, specifically on deeming work as hazardous child labor, and in intra-government coordination and enforcement of child labor laws. Additionally, the lack of effective enforcement of these laws continues to hamper government efforts across the region. Read More of the region summary
Child labor in agriculture is prevalent in 15 out of 17 countries across South, Southeast, and Central Asia, where child labor is often found in the cultivation of tobacco and cotton. Among the Oceanic Countries and Territories, commercial sexual exploitation is also a common problem. Bonded and forced child labor remains a problem in all South Asian countries except for Bhutan and Maldives. In Southeast Asia and South Asia many children work as domestic servants.
Southeast Asia has made meaningful efforts to lead the fight to eliminate child labor in domestic service. During the reporting period, the Philippines ratified ILO Convention 189 on Domestic Workers and passed the Domestic Workers Act, which provides protection for children in domestic service. In Thailand, the Government passed a law that offers protection to child domestic workers, including setting the minimum age for domestic work at 15 years. In 2012, the Government of Cambodia began participating in a new USDOL funded 4-year, $10 million project to combat child labor in three sectors, including domestic service. The Government of Indonesia also approved a new USDOL funded 4-year $5 million project to support child domestic workers by promoting decent work, improving legal protection and enforcement of laws, and supporting a reliable referral mechanism for cases of exploitation.
Several countries in Asia and the Pacific also launched or expanded social programs addressing child labor more broadly during 2012. The Philippines expanded its Conditional Cash Transfer Program to include conditionality on child labor. In Pakistan, the Punjab Provincial Government launched a $2 million project to combat the worst forms of child labor. Bangladesh also began a new initiative to eliminate child labor in urban slums and rural areas. In the Kyrgyz Republic, the government established a child labor information center and a child labor rehabilitation center. Kiribati and Papua New Guinea each engaged in initiatives to address commercial sexual exploitation of children, a problem seen in many Oceanic Countries and Territories.
In South Asia governments are addressing child labor across sectors through legislation and programs for education. In 2012, Pakistan passed the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, ensuring in law educational opportunities for children ages 5 to 16. In India, the Right to Education Act was expanded to include children with disabilities, a group particularly vulnerable to child labor. The Maldives extended access to secondary education to children living in remote areas, including by opening schools on nearly every island of the country. Sri Lanka also launched a project to increase primary and secondary school attendance rates.
Despite these efforts, there remain significant obstacles to progress, particularly in the areas of legal protections related to hazardous work and intra-government coordination and enforcement. In Pakistan, India, and Nepal as well as six of the Oceanic Countries and Territories, a minimum age for hazardous labor set at 18 years has yet to be established. In the Maldives, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji, lists of hazardous work prohibited to children have not been adopted. Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Vanuatu, and the Solomon Islands either have no coordinating body tasked with addressing child labor or coordination is ineffective. Thailand, Nepal, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Kazakhstan do not publish data regarding child labor violations, investigations, prosecutions, and convictions. In general, funding for child labor coordination and inspection is limited throughout the region.