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Status of Child Labor Practices and Minimum Age for Employment
Child labor remained a problem. The law prohibits employment of children less than 15 years of age in commerce and industry and restricts other child labor to home-based agricultural or domestic work. The law states that children may not be employed in agricultural or domestic work for more than 8 hours per day. The Decree allows the apprenticeship of youths at the age of 13 under specific conditions.
Economic hardship resulted in high numbers of children in commercial activities aimed at enhancing meager family income. The ILO estimated that approximately 12 million children between the ages of 10 and 14 (25 percent of all children) were employed in some capacity. Children frequently were employed as beggars, hawkers, and bus conductors in urban areas. The use of children as domestic servants was common.
There were reports of forced child labor (see Section 6.f.). There were occasional reports of forced child labor, including child slavery rings operating between Nigeria and neighboring countries.
The Labor Ministry had an inspections department whose major responsibilities included enforcement of legal provisions relating to conditions of work and protection of workers. However, there were fewer than 50 inspectors for the entire country, and the Ministry conducted inspections only in the formal business sector, in which the incidence of child labor was not significant.
Private and government initiatives to stem the growing incidence of child employment continued but were ineffective. UNICEF operated programs that removed young girls from the street hawking trade and relocated them to informal educational settings. UNICEF reported that the program had minimal success. In conjunction with the ILO, the Government formulated a national program of action in support of child rights, survival, protection, development, and participation; however, the program did not show any results by year's end due to logistical problems and changing personnel in the Ministry. A child rights bill was passed by the legislature during the year; however, there were no noticeable changes by year's end. ILO statistics indicated that the incidence of child labor is still on the increase, in spite of programs designed to reduce it.
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