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1.75 mil. child workers in Vietnam: survey

Vietnam had 1.75 million child laborers aged between five and 17, equal to 9.6 percent of that age group in the country, according to the first National Child Labor Survey.

The survey, released yesterday by the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs and the International Labor Organization (ILO), said that two out of every five of them were under 15 and worked in conditions that the report defined as child labor, such as bars, construction sites, workshops and quarries.

Findings from the survey showed that about one-third of child laborers had to work an average of more than 42 hours per week. This meant most of them did not attend school.

The survey was carried out in 2012 by the General Statistics Office with ILO technical support and covered 50,640 households.

Speaking at the launch, Deputy Minister Doan Mau Diep said the survey had provided the first overview of child labor in Vietnam.

It was expected to contribute to the elimination of child labor set by the Vietnamese Government for 2016-20, he said.

Diep also said the number of children in special circumstances, including young workers, was a challenge.

Doing Its Best

“Vietnam has been doing its best to take preventive measures and intervene to protect these children and create a healthy environment for every child,” Diep added.

The concept of child labor does not cover all working children, according to Diep. Households played a big role in the economy and the local labor force remained underdeveloped, so the Government allowed children of certain age groups to do a limited amount of work within strict guidelines that did not affect their health, schooling or development, he said.

The national survey indicated that one-sixth of Vietnamese children, or 2.83 million, were engaged in economic activities, with more boys working than girls. Girls accounted for about 42 percent.

Out of Necessity

About one-third of child laborers work due to necessity and a quarter choose to work because of high payment.

ILO Vietnam Country Director Gyorgy Sziraczki said: “Child labor should be eliminated as it deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and is harmful to physical and mental development.” This is a process that takes time, he said.

By compiling this report in addition to education laws that specify compulsory secondary education, Viet Nam was showing its determination to fight child labor, especially in its worst forms, he added.

Experts said that the rate of child labor in Vietnam was lower than the global average and very close to the regional figure.

The latest ILO Global Child Labor Trends report estimated for 2012 that 168 million children aged from 5-17 worldwide are child laborers, accounting for nearly 10.6 percent of the child population.

The rate is 9.3 percent for Asia and the Pacific.

According to the survey, the country is home to around 18.3 million children aged from 5-17.

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12-year-old Dao hill tribe ethnic girls carry vegetables in the northern province of Ha Giang, Vietnam on March 7, 2012. Women participate in many different daily economic activities, and some official studies show that women often work harder than men, especially in rural areas. (AFP)

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