Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Bahrain

Child Labor and Forced Labor Reports

Bahrain

2015 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor:

Minimal Advancement

In 2015, Bahrain made a minimal advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government launched a multilingual hotline, which the public can use to report cases of human trafficking and abuse of migrant workers. Although the problem does not appear to be widespread, children are engaged in the worst forms of child labor, including in commercial sexual exploitation. The Government has not conducted research to determine the nature and extent of the worst forms of child labor in the country. Furthermore, the Government has not published information on its law enforcement efforts or established mechanisms to coordinate its efforts among government agencies and other stakeholders to address child labor, including its worst forms.

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Although the problem does not appear to be widespread, children are engaged in the worst forms of child labor, including in commercial sexual exploitation, in Bahrain.(1) Data on key indicators on children’s work and education are not available from the sources used in this report.

Table 1. Statistics on Children’s Work and Education

Working children, ages 5 to 14 (% and population):

Unavailable

School attendance, ages 5 to 14 (%):

Unavailable

Children combining work and school, ages 7 to 14 (%):

Unavailable

Primary completion rate (%):

Unavailable

Primary completion rate was unavailable from UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2015.(2)
Data were unavailable from Understanding Children’s Work Project’s analysis, 2015.(3)

Based on a review of available information, Table 2 provides an overview of children’s work by sector and activity.

Table 2. Overview of Children’s Work by Sector and Activity

Sector/Industry

Activity

Services

Selling products on the street* (1)

Domestic work* (1)

Categorical Worst Forms of Child Labor‡

Commercial sexual exploitation* (1)

* Evidence of this activity is limited and/or the extent of the problem is unknown.
‡ Child labor understood as the worst forms of child labor per se under Article 3 (a)–(c) of ILO C. 182.

There is no evidence that the Government of Bahrain has conducted or participated in research to determine the extent to which children are engaged in child labor, including its worst forms.(4)

In 2015, there were cases of children who had traveled to Bahrain with falsified documents to work as domestic workers.(1)

In Bahrain, citizenship is derived from the father. As a result, children of Bahraini mothers and non-Bahraini fathers may be stateless.(5) Stateless children lack legal documents, such as birth certificates, which prevents them from enrolling in in school and having access to education.(6-8)

Bahrain has ratified all key international conventions concerning child labor (Table 3).

Table 3. Ratification of International Conventions on Child Labor

Convention

Ratification

ILO C. 138, Minimum Age

ILO C. 182, Worst Forms of Child Labor

UN CRC

UN CRC Optional Protocol on Armed Conflict

UN CRC Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography

Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Persons

 

The Government has established laws and regulations related to child labor, including its worst forms (Table 4).

Table 4. Laws and Regulations Related to Child Labor

Standard

Yes/No

Age

Related Legislation

Minimum Age for Work

Yes

15

Article 24 of the Labor Law (9)

Minimum Age for Hazardous Work

Yes

18

Article 27 of the Labor Law (9)

Prohibition of Hazardous Occupations or Activities for Children

Yes

 

Articles 1 and 2 of Ministerial Order No. 23 of 2013 (10)

Prohibition of Forced Labor

Yes

 

Article 1 of the Law on Combating Trafficking in Persons (11)

Prohibition of Child Trafficking

Yes

 

Article 1 of the Law on Combating Trafficking in Persons (11)

Prohibition of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

Yes

 

Article 1 of the Law on Combating Trafficking in Persons; Article 39 of the Child Law (11, 12)

Prohibition of Using Children in Illicit Activities

Yes

 

Articles 59 and 68 of the Child Law; Article 30 of the Law on Hallucinogenic Substances and Drugs (12, 13)

Minimum Age for Compulsory Military Recruitment

N/A*

 

 

Minimum Age for Voluntary Military Service

Yes

18

Article 24 of the Defense Force Act (14)

Compulsory Education Age

Yes

15

Article 1 of the Education Act (15)

Free Public Education

Yes

 

Article 7 of the Education Act (15)

* No conscription (14)

The minimum age protection in the Labor Law does not apply to children in certain sectors, such as domestic work.(9) However, some Government policies help prevent child labor in domestic work. For example, visa policies require that all individuals seeking to migrate to Bahrain for work be at least age 18. Similarly, children already in Bahrain as dependents of migrants cannot obtain work visas.(16)

Article 236 of the Penal Code penalizes commercial sexual exploitation.  Because Article 32 of the Penal Code establishes the criminal responsibility age at 15, children ages 15 and older who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation may be liable as violating Article 236.(17, 18) However, it is standard practice in Bahrain in those situations for the children to be placed in a rehabilitation center and not be prosecuted.(16) Additionally, Articles 1.26 and 1.27 of Ministerial Order No. 23 of 2013 prohibit the employment of minors in bars and nightclubs, which are sectors particularly vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation.(10) This reduces children’s vulnerability to commercial sexual exploitation and the likelihood of prosecution.

The Government has established institutional mechanisms for the enforcement of laws and regulations on child labor, including its worst forms (Table 5).

Table 5. Agencies Responsible for Child Labor Law Enforcement

Organization/Agency

Role

Ministry of Labor and Social Development

Enforce child labor laws, along with the Labor Market Regulatory Authority. Inspectors often take the lead role in initial mediation to resolve violations of the Labor Law.(1) Violations that are not resolved through mediation are referred to the Public Prosecutor’s Office. Maintain a hotline to receive criminal complaints of child labor, including its worst forms.(1)

Labor Market Regulatory Authority

Issue work visas to ensure that individuals coming to Bahrain as migrant workers are at least age 18.(4) Enforce the Law on Combating Trafficking in Persons.(1) In 2015, launched a multilingual hotline to assist migrant workers.(19)

Police Department of the Ministry of the Interior

Enforce criminal laws that prohibit the worst forms of child labor in coordination with the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, the Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs and Endowments, and the Public Prosecutor’s Office, as needed. Oversee the 12‑person Criminal Investigations Directorate that investigates potential cases of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.(20) Refer any identified child victims of human trafficking or illicit activities to the Center for Child Protection.(4) Maintain a hotline to receive criminal complaints of child trafficking.(21)

Public Prosecutor’s Office

Prosecute all crimes related to child labor and human trafficking.(22)

 

Labor Law Enforcement

Research did not find information on whether labor law enforcement agencies in Bahrain took actions to combat the worst forms of child labor.

Table 6. Labor Law Enforcement Efforts Related to Child Labor

Overview of Labor Law Enforcement

2014

2015

Labor Inspectorate Funding

Unknown

Unknown

Number of Labor Inspectors

33 (4)

Unknown (1)

Inspectorate Authorized to Assess Penalties

Yes (23)

Yes (23)

Training for Labor Inspectors

   

Initial Training for New Employees

Unknown

Unknown

Training on New Laws Related to Child Labor

N/A

N/A

Refresher Courses Provided

Yes (4)

Yes (1)

Number of Labor Inspections

11,000 (4)

Unknown (1)

Number Conducted at Worksite

Unknown

Unknown

Number Conducted by Desk Reviews

Unknown

Unknown

Number of Child Labor Violations Found

0 (4)

Unknown (1)

Number of Child Labor Violations for which Penalties were Imposed

N/A

Unknown (1)

Number of Penalties Imposed that were Collected

N/A

Unknown (1)

Routine Inspections Conducted

Unknown

Unknown

Routine Inspections Targeted

Unknown

Unknown

Unannounced Inspections Permitted

Yes (24)

Yes (24)

Unannounced Inspections Conducted

Unknown

Unknown

Complaint Mechanism Exists

Yes (21)

Yes (21)

Reciprocal Referral Mechanism Exists Between Labor Authorities and Social Services

Unknown

Unknown

 

The Ministry of Labor and Social Development maintains a hotline to receive complaints on cases of child labor and child abuse. The hotline receives about 250 calls per year; however, it is not known how many of them were related to child labor.(1)

Criminal Law Enforcement

Research did not find information on whether criminal law enforcement agencies in Bahrain took actions to combat the worst forms of child labor.

Table 7. Criminal Law Enforcement Efforts Related to the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Overview of Criminal Law Enforcement

2014

2015

Training for Investigators

   

Initial Training for New Employees

Unknown

Unknown

Training on New Laws Related to the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Unknown

Unknown

Refresher Courses Provided

Unknown

Yes (1)

Number of Investigations

0 (21)

Unknown (1)

Number of Violations Found

0 (21)

Unknown

Number of Prosecutions Initiated

N/A

Unknown (1)

Number of Convictions

N/A

Unknown (1)

Reciprocal Referral Mechanism Exists Between Criminal Authorities and Social Services

Yes (4)

Yes (4)

 

Although the Government has established the National Committee on Combating Human Trafficking, research found no evidence of mechanisms to coordinate its efforts to address child labor, including all its worst forms (Table 8).

Table 8. Mechanisms to Coordinate Government Efforts on Child Labor

Coordinating Body

Role & Description

National Committee on Combating Trafficking in Persons

Coordinate policies and laws to combat human trafficking and organize educational and outreach campaigns to raise awareness on trafficking in persons.(25) Led by the Labor Market Regulatory Authority, other members include representatives from the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs and Endowments, the Public Prosecutor, the Ministry of Information Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Shura Council and the Council of Representatives’ Affairs, and from NGOs.(1)

 

The Government of Bahrain has established policies related to child labor, including its worst forms (Table 9).

Table 9. Policies Related to Child Labor

Policy

Description

National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking

(2014–2015)

Supported the implementation of the Law on Combating Trafficking in Persons.(21)

 

Although the Government of Bahrain has adopted the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, research found no evidence of a policy to combat other worst forms of child labor.

In 2015, the Government of Bahrain funded programs that include the goal of eliminating or preventing child labor, including its worst forms (Table 10).

Table 10. Social Programs to Address Child Labor

Program

Description

Child Protection Center†

Government center that provides treatment and counseling to child victims of abuse, including sexual exploitation.(26, 27) Receives referrals of child victims of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation from the Ministry of the Interior.(4)

Social Welfare Dignity Home†

Government program that provided services to homeless persons and beggars, including children.(26) Closed in December 2015.(1)

† Program was funded by the Government of Bahrain.

The Government opened the Migrant Worker Service Center and Shelter for adult victims of human trafficking, and transferred trafficking victims from the Dar al Aman Center for Domestic Abuse to the new shelter.(28)

The National Committee on Combating Human Trafficking accepted submissions for a national awareness competition focusing on the fair treatment of domestic workers.(19) Although the Government has implemented programs to assist victims of human trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, and begging, research found no evidence of programs specifically aimed at protecting children engaged in domestic work.

Based on the reporting above, suggested actions are identified that would advance the elimination of child labor, including its worst forms, in Bahrain (Table 11).

Table 11. Suggested Government Actions to Eliminate Child Labor, Including its Worst Forms

Area

Suggested Action

Year(s) Suggested

Legal Framework

Ensure that the law’s minimum age provisions do not exclude children in certain sectors, including in domestic work.

2014 – 2015

Ensure that the laws do not allow the prosecution of child victims of commercial sexual exploitation.

2010 – 2015

Enforcement

 

Collect and make publicly available data on the labor inspectorate funding; the number of labor inspectors; the training system; the number of inspections and whether they were conducted at worksites or via desk review only; the number of child labor violations and penalties imposed and collected; whether routine, targeted, and unannounced inspections were conducted; and whether there is a reciprocal referral mechanism between labor authorities and social services.

2009 – 2015

Collect and make publicly available data on the training system for criminal investigators and the number of investigations, violations, prosecutions, and convictions.

2013 – 2015

Coordination

Establish coordinating mechanisms to combat child labor, including all its worst forms, such as commercial sexual exploitation.

2009 – 2015

Government Policies

Adopt a policy that addresses all relevant worst forms of child labor, such as commercial sexual exploitation.

2009 – 2015

Social Programs

Conduct a comprehensive study of children’s activities to determine the extent to which children are engaged in or at risk for involvement in child labor, including the worst forms of child labor.

2009 – 2015

Ensure universal access to education, particularly for stateless children.

2010 – 2015

Develop programs to address the issue of child domestic work.

2014 – 2015

 

1.         U.S. Embassy- Manama. reporting, January 17, 2016.

2.         UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary. Total. [accessed December 16, 2015]; http://data.uis.unesco.org/. Data provided is the gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary school. This measure is a proxy measure for primary completion. This ratio is the total number of new entrants in the last grade of primary education, regardless of age, expressed as a percentage of the population at the theoretical entrance age to the last grade of primary. A high ratio indicates a high degree of current primary education completion. Because the calculation includes all new entrants to last grade (regardless of age), the ratio can exceed 100 percent, due to over-aged and under-aged children who enter primary school late/early and/or repeat grades. For more information, please see the “Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions” section of this report.

3.         UCW. Analysis of Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Statistics from National Household or Child Labor Surveys. Analysis received December 18, 2015. Reliable statistical data on the worst forms of child labor are especially difficult to collect given the often hidden or illegal nature of the worst forms. As a result, statistics on children’s work in general are reported in this chart, which may or may not include the worst forms of child labor.  For more information on sources used, the definition of working children and other indicators used in this report, please see the “Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions” section of this report.

4.         U.S. Embassy- Manama. reporting, January 29, 2015.

5.         U. S. Department of State. "Bahrain," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices- 2014. Washington, DC; June 25, 2015; http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/236806.pdf.

6.         Migrant Workers Protection Society official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. December 13, 2014.

7.         Bahrain Center for Human Rights. Stateless in Bahrain. Copenhagen; 2014. http://bahrainrights.org/sites/default/files/Stateless%20in%20Bahrain%20-%20Final.pdf.

8.         UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Consideration of reports submitted by States Parties under article 44 of the Convention - Concluding observations: Bahrain; May-June, 2011. http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CRC/C/BHR/CO/2-3&Lang=En.

9.         Government of Bahrain. Law No. 36 of 2012 on the Promulgation of the Labor Law in the Private Sector, enacted August 2, 2012. http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/MONOGRAPH/91026/105342/F265276925/BHR91026%20Eng.pdf.

10.       Government of Bahrain. Ministerial Order No. 23 of 2013 determining the cases, circumstances and any other conditions, governing the employment of minors, and determining the occupations, industries and dangerous and hazardous works in which minors may not be employed or which may be harmful to their health, safety or ethical behavior in accordance with the various age stages, enacted May 26, 2013.

11.       Government of Bahrain. Law No. 1 of 2008 on Combating Trafficking in Persons, enacted 2008. http://www.unodc.org/res/cld/document/bhr/draft_law_no__1_of_2008_with_respect_to_trafficking_in_persons_html/Bahrain_TiP-Law_2008-ArEn.pdf.

12.       Government of Bahrain Law No. 37 of 2012 on the Promulgating the Child Law, enacted August 29, 2012. http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.details?p_lang=en&p_country=BHR&p_classification=04&p_origin=COUNTRY&p_sortby=SORTBY_COUNTRY.

13.       Government of Bahrain. Law No. 15 of 2007 on hallucinogenic substances and drugs, enacted August 10, 2007. http://www.legalaffairs.gov.bh/Media/LegalPDF/K1507.pdf.

14.       Government of Bahrain. Law No. 32 of 2002 on the Promulgation of Bahrain's Defense Force Act, enacted September 24, 2002.

15.       Government of Bahrain. Law No. 27 of 2005 on Education, enacted 2005. http://www.legalaffairs.gov.bh/LegislationSearchDetails.aspx?id=2416#.VIixS9LF-So.

16.       U.S. Embassy- Manama. reporting, May 6, 2015.

17.       Government of Bahrain. Decree No. 15 of 1976 on the Promulgation of the Penal Code, enacted 1976. http://www.unodc.org/res/cld/document/bhr/1976/bahrain_penal_code_html/Bahrain_Penal_Code_1976.pdf.

18.       U.S. Embassy- Manama official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. March 30, 2011.

19.       U.S. Embassy- Manama. reporting, December 29, 2015.

20.       U.S. Embassy- Manama. reporting, January 20, 2014.

21.       U.S. Embassy- Manama official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. March 8, 2015.

22.       U.S. Embassy- Manama. reporting, February 5, 2015.

23.       ILO. "Labour Inspection in Arab States: Progress and Challenges." (2014); http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---arabstates/---ro-beirut/documents/publication/wcms_325618.pdf.

24.       Government of Bahrain. The decision of the Minister of Labor No. 29 of 2013 on the organization of the labor inspection, enacted 2013. http://www.legalaffairs.gov.bh/LegislationSearchDetails.aspx?id=30300#.VOuM8tLF-So.

25.       National Committee to Combat Trafficking in Persons. National Committee to Combat Trafficking in Persons; 2014. [source on file].

26.       UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Periodic Reports of States Parties due in 1999:  Bahrain; March 25, 2010. http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CRC%2fC%2fBHR%2f2-3&Lang=en.

27.       Ministry of Social Development. Child Protection Centre, Kingdom of Bahrain, [online] August 11, 2014 [cited November 17, 2014]; http://www.social.gov.bh/node/348.

28.       Arabian Business. "Bahrain to shut down expat shelters." October 24, 2015 [cited January 12, 2016]; http://www.arabianbusiness.com/bahrain-shut-down-expat-shelters-609721.html.

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