More than one million children, almost 10% of all minors in Colombia, work to sustain themselves or their families, the country’s Ministry of Labor revealed Tuesday.
In a report on domestic labor by minors, the Ministry said that of the 11.3 million minors in Colombia, 1.1 million is working illegally.
The latest figures show a 3.2% drop in child labor compared to late 2011 when the government estimated the number of children working at 1.4 million.
According to the Ministry, 35% of the working minors do so out of poverty and try to support the basic needs of their families. However, another 35% of interviewed working minors said their main objective was to have money to spend.
Colombian law allows no labor by children under 15. Minors between 15 and 17 are allowed to work, but need a permission from authorities that check whether a minor isn’t subjected to dangerous working conditions.
According to Labor Minister Rafael Pardo, people who subject children to labor “violate the rights to education, health, time and personal development.”
The Colombian government, together with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), vowed to combat child labor, particularly those who work as domestic helpers.
To do so, the ministry and the ILO announced to join hands in a campaign to diminish the number of children working in people’s homes.
According to the ministry, some 17,000 Colombian children — 94% of which are girls — are illegally employed as domestic helpers. Some thousand girls between 10 and 14 are estimated to work in return for food and shelter.