Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bolivia legalizes child labor for ten-year olds

voluntary transactions?
In December, the Union of Boy, Girl and Adolescent Workers of Bolivia marched to the presidential palace in La Paz to press its case for legal recognition of under-14 workers. Anti-riot police fired tear gas and the TV images of gasping, red-eyed youngsters alarmed President Morales.
After meeting with the child workers, Mr. Morales declared: “The state shouldn’t outlaw child labor. It should protect them.”
The Legislative Assembly followed his advice and rewrote parts of Bolivia’s Code for Children and Adolescents. Now, children starting at age 12 who have parental consent can work under contract and those from age 10 may be self-employed, as long as both stay in school.
Luis Canaza, 15, argued that part-time jobs can improve math skills and provide money to buy school uniforms and books. Luis, who has been working since he was 7, performs weekend clown shows and moonlights as a “voceador,” the barkers who shout the destinations of minibuses to lure passengers.

1 comment:

  1. When I first read this title, I was shocked that certain countries go to lengths of legalizing child labor. Are countries this desperate? What happened to all the adults needing jobs? I understand we have many poor countries and children might feel they need to work to assist in supporting their family but not working 12-16 hour days. Children need to enjoy their childhood, and I believe that is how God would have wanted it.

    Here is a story you might find very troubling. In Pink Hill, N.C., several workers, including teenagers get to the fields at 6, punch holes through their bags for their arms. They are trying to avoid what is known as “green tobacco sickness,” or nicotine poisoning, One which can cause vomiting, dizziness and irregular heart rates, among other symptoms. One teenager reported that sometimes she has trouble breathing in the middle of all the heat, humidity and leaves, and that she often feels weary during her 12-hour shifts, when she moves through the rows to pluck unwanted flowers or pull off oversize leaves for the harvest. You get very thirsty, says the teenager, who sometimes waits an hours in 90-plus heat for a drink until her crew returns to the opposite side of a field, where the water jugs are parked.

    One teenager says she is lucky not to have become really sick, whereas others have become visibly ill. “Last week, they made us work when it was raining, and I got water in my mouth and I felt dizziness and nausea,” said another older teenager. For years, public health experts and federal labor officials have sought to bar teenagers under 16 from the tobacco fields, citing the grueling hours and the harmful exposure to nicotine and other chemicals, but their efforts have been blocked. Three years ago, Hilda Solis, then the labor secretary, proposed declaring work in tobacco fields and with tractors hazardous - making that type of work illegal for those under 16. Opponents of child labor note that Brazil, India and some other tobacco-producing nations already prohibit anyone under 18 from working on tobacco farms.

    The Obama administration withdrew Ms. Solis’s proposed rule after encountering intense opposition from farm groups and Republican lawmakers. Agricultural organizations said the move would hurt family farms and make it harder for young people to learn farming skills. In the meantime, public health experts say hundreds of children under 16 continue to work in America’s tobacco fields.

    Work Cited:
    Greenhouse, S. (2014) Just 13, and Working Risky 12-Hour shifts in the Tobacco Fields. Retrieved from: