The Bolivian population – demographics
According to the INE (The National Institute of Statistics of Bolivia) 32,4% of the population in Bolivia are minors (aged from 0 to 14 years old), 27,2% are aged between 14 and 29 years old, 31,4% of the population are aged from 30 to 59 years old, and finally, the population aged 60 or more represent 8,9% of the total Bolivian population.
Child labour in Bolivia
Data from “Des enquetes de Hogares” (2012) show that 17,5% of children and adolescents in Bolivia are engaged in either economic and/or domestic work/activities. According to statistics, child labour affects more men (18,7%) than women (16,4%) and increases with age. These numbers are higher in rural areas where 34 out of a 100 children are working, whereas only seven out of a 100 children are working in urban areas. It was estimated in 2012 that approximately 100,000 children, aged from 7 to 12 years old were engaged in work. In addition to this, 289,000 children aged between 12 and 17 years old were also working. This means that in total,approximately 391,000 children aged less than 17 years old were working in Bolivia in 2012, often in dangerous conditions, either in fields or in mines.
In April 2016 the minister of education, Roberto Aguilar, announced that there were more than 34,000 students (both children and adolescents) working and earning money whilst studying. Additionally, according to Lizeth Reina Castro (from UNATSBO, the Union of Child Workers of Bolivia), more than 33,000 children work, but do not study. Moreover, according to data from UNICEF in 2014 more than 58% of the children working in Bolivia are aged less than 14 years old. Also, more than 90% of the work children perform is informal.
In Bolivia, the laws and regulations concerning and protecting child labour are based on the law n*548-Code “Children and adolescents” enacted in June 2014. The law states that the minimum legal working age in Bolivia is 14 years old, however “exceptionally”, the latter can be decreased to 10 years old. Child labour is more or less a normality in Bolivia and is the result of extreme poverty and mediocre living conditions, pushing children to work from a very young age in order to earn money for the family and improve their living conditions.
Infantile sexual violence
At a national level, everyday 16 children and adolescents are victims of sexual violence/aggression. Statistics regarding infantile sexual violence in Bolivia are higher than the world average. According to the “Reseau de Professionnels de Protection de l’Enfance et de l’Adolescence” (Network of Professionals of the Protection of Childhood and Adolescence) (2016), 8% of the children in the world are victims of sexual violence before the age of 18, whereas in Bolivia the number is as high as 23%.
Children and adolescents ‘on the streets’
At a national level, children and adolescents on the streets are highly vulnerable to different risks such as labour exploitation, drug and alcohol consumption, commercial sexual violence, etc. The dangerous conditions that children face on the streets and the fact that they are marginalised only increases their vulnerability. According to the INE (National Institute of Statistics of Bolivia) in Bolivia, more than 8,000 children live on the streets, facing the dangers mentioned above.
The term ‘institutionalised children’ includes children living in orphanages, hostels, public housing and private institutions. According to the latest data from UNICEF in Bolivia, approximately 20,000 to 30,000 underaged children are living in different institutions (private or public), as result of being abandoned by their parents.
Any action which can help improving these dramatic number is important.