~ This article was originally published on September 14, 2015 ~
Poverty, inequality, and discrimination are the painful conditions faced by children in Veracruz, as two out of five boys, girls, and adolescents lack free health services, and only one in three boys and girls begin their preschool education at age three. In 2011, more than 48,000 minors did not attend school and there are 208,889 boys and girls who at their young age have to work in street markets, supermarkets, marketplaces, brickyards, gravel pits, factories, cutting sugarcane and picking coffee, exposed to danger and exploitation.
According to the results of the National Survey of Employment, of the Child Labor Division (MTI), undertaken by the National Statistics and Geography Institute (INEGI) and the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, of the 1,916,360 children in Veracruz, 208,889 work, 697,336 only attend school, 992,571 do household chores or study, and 17,534 are engaged in other activities. Two years after the study, the full results of the 2011 MTI survey indicate that there was only a reduction of 1% in working children, a statistic that preserves Veracruz’s fourth-place national ranking, behind only Chiapas, Puebla, and Mexico State.
Of the minors who work in Veracruz, 139,832 are boys and 69,057 are girls; among them 66,149 are between 5 and 13 years old and 142,740 are between 14 and 17. Of those, 58,453 do not attend school; there are 20,665 who work without regular hours and 117,713 who work at least 35 hours a week, while 69,386 work more.
The sectors in which Veracruz’s children work: 59,010 in the primary sector, 30,548 in the secondary sector, 111,125 in the tertiary sector, and 7,838 in unspecified sectors. Of the total of 208,889 who work in the state, 107,117 boys and girls are unpaid, 49,341 receive up to one minimum wage [pay rates are calculated on a minimum wage base] and 48,414 receive more than one minimum wage.
According to the overall results of the MTI 2011, child labor decreased by one percentage point, a tendency encouraged by the percentage of boys and girls who received scholarships to study, which increased from 19.9% in 2009 to 24% in 2011.
Nevertheless, these children helped their families, since of the total of working children in Veracruz, 69,427 did contribute their income to the household budget. This contribution stems not only from the household need for labor, but also the personal and school related costs of the children, which are cited as the principle reasons for child labor.
The situation is complicated by the fact that while four out of ten boys and girls could stop working, for the remaining six out of ten cannot do so without consequences for their household, the MTI continues.
Of the total of working boys and girls, 4% of them have suffered an illness or accident at work that required medical attention, since they are exposed to dust, gases, or fire; excessive noise, moisture or extreme temperatures, dangerous tools, heavy machinery, excessive darkness, chemical products, explosives and electric shocks.
The proposal of the OIT is carried out in the state, it is because almost 40 percent of the total agricultural working population is composed of boys, girls, and adolescents (3.5 million of the 9.2 million) and many of them are in the sugarcane growing regions of Veracruz where their health is at risk from inhaling the smoke from burning cane, as well as snakebites and scorpions, the use of dangerous tools during the cutting of cane. Similarly, underage workers are at risk during the coffee harvest owing to the winter weather that takes place during the harvest from October to February.
Journalist Norma Trujillo Báez reports for La Jornada from Veracruz. This article was published by La Jornada de Veracruz on September 14, 2015 under the title “Prevalecen malas condiciones para niñez en entidad; son explotados y carecen derechos” and is available at: http://www.jornadaveracruz.com.mx/prevalecen-malas-condiciones-para-ninez-en-entidad-son-explotados-y-carecen-derechos/
Translation by Michael Lettieri, Trans-Border Institute