HRW urges Bolivia to not lower its minimum age of employment

Jan. 25, 2014 at 4:34 PM   |   Comments

SUCRE, Bolivia, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Lowering Bolivia's minimum age of employment is "counterproductive" to ending poverty in the country, the Human Rights Watch says.

Currently, the minimum age to work in Bolivia is 14, but the country's legislature is considering a bill that would lower the age to work to 12 for most jobs, Human Rights Watch said in a release Friday.

Protests by Unatsbo, the Bolivian Union of Child and Adolescent Workers, in favor of lowering the minimum age of employment prompted lawmakers to consider the bill.

However, "Child labor perpetuates the cycle of poverty," Jo Becker, children's rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, said. "Lowering the minimum age of employment is counterproductive and out of step with the rest of the world."

HRW participated in the Global March against Child Labor and Anti-Slavery International's campaign to send letters to Bolivian President Evo Morales voicing opposition to the proposed lower minimum age of employment.

"Poor families often send their children to work out of desperation, but these children miss out on schooling and are more likely to end up in a lifetime of low-wage work," Becker said. "The Bolivian government should invest in policies and programs to end child labor, not support it."

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