First of all, it must be remembered that In Ecuador, work is prohibited for children under 16 years of age., and that working is not the same as developing an educational activity or training the skills, abilities or affinities of children and adolescents, like someone who goes to the conservatory with the idea of one day being a soloist on an instrument or goes to a music school. football because he likes that sport and wants to try it.
These latter occupations could include small business initiativeswhich are part of the process of development and enjoyment of children.
“It begins to be harmful when an apparently recreational activity, and in some cases certainly economic, harms study hours, time to do homework, time to rest, and time to recreate and socialize with other boys and girls,” says educational psychologist Héctor Hurtado Pide, who is manager of Plan International for Guayas and Los Ríos, and has experience promoting children’s rights in child labor prevention projects.
So, it is important to identify when boys and girls have states of exhaustion because perhaps their hours of sleep are being altered, which affects their mood and nutrition. “The family, tutors or tutors must be alert when they identify that it is not just a wish of the child.”
These conditions apply even if the child expressly says that he wants to be in a certain activity or support the family. “Children are supportive: they want to support their father, their mother, their tutor when they see needs at home. But responsible adults must identify what is from childhood”, and what is not.
Hurtado adds that, at some point, children’s rights organizations created a campaign that read: “Eight hours to study, eight hours to sleep, eight hours to play: 24 hours to be happy”. When an additional activity to these exceeds two hours and that involves physical effort, manipulation or obligation, it is child labor.
“If the family has a small business and the child wants to be there, and wants to help and do their first sales exercises, learning math, it’s a positive factor. But, when this exceeds two hours, it could be harmfulbecause the child is not playing, he is not recreating, he is not studying or resting or exercising ”, details the psychologist.
The best compass on this subject is the boys and girls themselves; For this reason, Hurtado’s recommendation is that adults learn to listen carefully and give space for children to express themselves in an environment of security and trust. What do they really want to do?
Children are supportive, they want to support their father, their mother, their tutor when they see needs at home. But responsible adults must identify what is from childhood.
“Sometimes you see boys and girls exhausted, because after school they go to ballet, to soccer, to guitar, to music and others also to work”. It’s okay that they like football, but mom and dad should use their best judgment and set time limits. If the child is resistant to continue with the practice or seems tired, it is time to be flexible. At first his son may have said yes, but over time he discovered that it’s not what he wanted or that there are things he needs more. “We would have to reach agreements with our children.”
Before the pandemic, there was an increase in child labor in Ecuador. There is a very direct relationship between poverty and the increase in child labor. The family group is forced to make decisions such as that the boys and girls stop studying to contribute, according to their criteria, to the household economy. “And as they grow, the children observe the needs and ‘decide’ to contribute by working.” It is part of the nobility of boys and girls, Hurtado emphasizes, and what corresponds to adults is to look for all possible mechanisms so that they continue living their childhood, doing only what corresponds to them.
What if the child says that he wants to work on something for the good of all? Even when he or she says that he or she wants to support, the role of adults will always be to protect children’s rights and needs, those activities that make them grow. “It is not a free decision of the child to sacrifice his study time or his rest for the family; it’s actually conditioned”.
What does Ecuadorian law say about child labor?
Indeed, the lawyer Katia Ayala Murrieta points out that, according to the Constitution (art. 46, numeral 2) and the Code of childhood and adolescence (art. 83), for the State there is the responsibility of eradicate the work of children and adolescents who have not reached the age of 15.
The Labor Code, on the other hand, in its art. 134 stipulates that “all kinds of work, for others, for children and adolescents under 15 years of age” are prohibited. In case of violation of this prohibition, the employer must pay the minor double the remuneration and will not be exempt from complying with all labor and social obligations. derived from the employment relationship, benefits and social security benefits, in addition to being penalized with the maximum fine provided for in article 95 of the Code for Children and Adolescents, and with the closure of the establishment in case of recidivism.
The Constitution, in its article 46, determines that the State will provide special protection against any type of labor or economic exploitation of minors under 15 years of age. The work of adolescents will be “exceptional”, without prejudice to their right to education, and it must not take place in situations that are harmful or dangerous to health and personal development. This work will be recognized and supported as long as it does not affect their training and comprehensive development.
Read more: Do children have rights?, explained for the family and the little ones
What is the situation of minors who work in entertainment or television? “Generally, it is the parents who authorize their children to participate in television and commercial programs, and in their capacity as legal representatives they sign the contracts with the companies,” says Ayala. “The content of the programs and commercials in which minors participate must be in accordance with their age and, additionally, their rights must be respected, such as, for example, study schedules, recording hours and so on”.
In 2014, the lawyer continues, the regulation for the dissemination of advertising in the social media whose production participates or is directed at children and adolescents was published in the Official Gazette. Article 24 establishes that girls, boys and adolescents have the right to their own image; for this reason, “they can lend their image for the realization and dissemination of advertising through all types of mediaas long as the following conditions are respected”:
- That parents, guardians or those who exercise parental authority grant a written authorization for the use of the image of the girls, boys and adolescents until before they turn 16 years of age, in accordance with the provisions of article 63 of the General Regulations of the Organic Law of Communication. From the age of 16, the authorization of adolescents will be requested.
- That the image is not used to the detriment of the honor, personal privacy, good name, independence and individuality of girls, boys and adolescents.
- If the advertising seeks to capture, reproduce or publish images of girls, boys or adolescents in places or moments of their private lifethose responsible for its production, design and dissemination must have the authorization stated in numeral 1, provided that it does not affect their physical, psychological or sexual integrity.
- That the opinion of girls, boys and adolescents be taken into account for the use of their image.
What if there is complaints related to these four points? The competent authority will verify that the conditions established in said article have been met before the issuance of the advertisement if there is any complaint.
Article 25 of the aforementioned legal body provides that advertising in which the image of girls, boys and adolescents is used must respect the following conditions:
- Advertising in which images of girls, boys and adolescents are used, especially those with disabilities, serious or catastrophic illness, must Avoid exaggeration, manipulation and exploitation related to your health situation, social, family, economic condition or any form of discrimination.
- Advertising that uses images of girls, boys and adolescents may not promote violence, sexual content, racist, sexist or where their dignity, self-esteem, honor, reputation and self-image are affected.
- Advertising should not display images that allow the identification of a girl, boy or adolescent who has been a victim of mistreatment, sexual abuse or other type of violation of your rights. Nor will reference be made to the environment in which it is developed.
This also applies to the advertising of caricatures of minors.
How to file a complaint for non-compliance with any of these points? The legal representatives of minors must present it to the Council for the Regulation, Development and Promotion of Information and Communicationproviding the respective evidence or who knows that they are violating the rights of minors.
The situation of child labor in Ecuador, according to Unicef data from 2012-2018
According to National Child Labor Survey (ENTI) 2012from the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INEC), 360,000 boys and girls under 18 years of age were in a child labor situation.
- Among boys and girls under 15 years of age this incidence was higher in males (10.6%) compared to girls (6.5%). In the case of adolescents between 15 and 17 years old, 15.7% carried out work activities, 21.5% of men and 9.9% of women.
- (26%); and, in the case of the adolescent population, 39%.
- Of the total number of children and adolescents who work, only 30.5% declare that they have income.
- Of the total working population under 17 years of age, 75% also study.
- About 5 out of 10 child laborers are exposed to at least one form of hazardous work.
- Almost 82% of boys and girls, as well as 78% of working adolescents, live in a home in a situation of poverty due to unsatisfied basic needs. (YO)
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