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Morales opposes outright child labor ban

24 December 2013 8:54

341622_Bolivia-MoralesBolivia’s President Evo Morales says he is opposed to any outright child labor ban or setting a minimum age for workers.

On Monday, Morales said the country should not forbid children from working, drawing his own experience to explain his opposition to legislation that would not allow adolescents under the age of 14 to work.

Morales, who worked as a helper in a bakery and making bricks at a young age, said child labor as such “should not be banned. But (children) should not be exploited either.”

Furthermore, the president said, “the State should be in charge of making sure that children are taken care of and protected.”

The president however did not state if the government could or would provide sufficient benefits to prevent children from being forced to work for an income.

This comes as Bolivian lawmakers are discussing the prospect of bringing the country in line with International Labor Organization (ILO) rules.

Morales said ILO legislation does not acknowledge the large efforts working children make for their families, including those who only have only one parent or maybe have even lost both parents.

Bolivia, South America’s poorest country, has some 850,000 children who work and not attend school, official data show.

At a conference in October, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder urged countries to redouble their efforts to tackle child labor, as a target to eliminate the worst instances of child labor by 2016 will not be reached.

The organization has as one of its aims to tackle hazardous child labour in difficult-to-monitor sectors of the economy, such as agriculture and illegal or hidden economic activities, where most child laborers in Bolivia work.

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