Child labor in Bolivia

Aug 28, 2014

In this July 7, 2014, photo, Lucas, 13, polishes shoes on a street in La Paz, Bolivia. While most of the rest of the world is trying to diminish child labor, Bolivia is on the verge of becoming the first nation legalize it from age 10. Congress has approved the proposal and all that’s now required is President Evo Morales’ signature.
Credit Juan Karita / AP Photo

In July, Bolivia passed a new child labor law that attracted a great deal of international attention. The South American country made it legal for children who are at least 10 years old to go to work. This goes against a United Nations convention which, for the most part, sets 14 as the minimum age at which one can start to work.

Supporters of the legislation say that some children in Bolivia are already in the workforce before they turn 14 as part of the country's informal economy. Recognizing their status as workers allows them more legal rights than they had before, they say. But, critics of the law say the first priority for children should be education and safety, not employment, and that the law should be repealed.

We look at the law in Bolivia, what effects it has had thus far, and discuss the state of child labor worldwide.

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