Child labor is a practice that has often occurred throughout history. Considered normal and accepted, child labor persisted for centuries in many places; however, in recent history, nations have enacted laws to protect children and ensure their safety.
In recent years, the ninth largest country, Russia, has been a popular topic in the news and in politics. Children’s rights are among the topics that people consider less often when discussing Russia’s human rights record. The story of child labor in Russia is long and varied throughout the history of its government and economic systems. The state of laws concerning child labor continues to evolve. Here are 10 facts about child labor in Russia.
10 Facts About Child Labor in Russia
- The Soviet Republic restricted child labor during its existence. For many years, the world knew the region of Russia as the United Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR). During this time, the USSR forbade children under the age of 16 from working. However, some exceptional cases allowed for the employment of children ages 14 and 15
- Children’s economic roles changed after the fall of the USSR. When the era of the USSR ended, many Russians fell into poverty and the nation’s GDP fell. As many families struggled, pressure increased for children to work in order to help provide for the family.
- Child labor remained illegal despite new economic pressures. The law that prohibits the employment of children under the age of 16 remained in effect, despite Russia’s changes. Russia permitted the employment of children ages 14 and 15 only if they completed their basic education or obtained parental consent.
- Russia restricts shift lengths and working hours for children. Permitted to work, children between the ages of 14 and 16 can work a maximum of 24 hours per week. Further, their shifts cannot exceed five hours. For children ages 16 to 18, shifts cannot exceed seven hours and cannot exceed 36 weekly hours.
- The Russian government prohibits certain types of work. Anyone under the age of 18 cannot work night shifts or do dangerous work or work which may be “harmful to their moral development.”
- Children have special protections with regard to time off. According to Russian law, employed minors must receive at least 31 days of vacation time per year. For adults, these days roll over to the next year, but minors must use these vacation days.
- Despite the laws in place, child labor in Russia is still a threat to children’s well-being. When Maplecroft, a risk-analysis organization, made its Child Labor Index in 2014, it classified Russia as an extreme risk for child labor.
- Children who must work face different circumstances in rural and urban areas. Rural children primarily work in agriculture, while urban children’s labor usually occurs in industry or in service work. Common tasks include washing cars, selling merchandise and collecting garbage.
- The percentage of children in Russia forced into child labor is unknown. There is a scarcity of research regarding the prevalence of child labor. The surveys conducted by the International Labour Organization (ILO), in 1993, estimated that close to 20 percent of children in Russia were involved in child labor. More recent research is scarce.
- Child labor puts minors in danger. As shown in a 1997 study by G. I. Zabrianskii, 45 percent of children working on the streets have received threats of violence. Further, one-third of children working on the streets had actually experienced violence.
While there are laws in place to combat child labor, children in Russia are still at risk. Child labor in Russia may be due to economic pressures. Considering working children often face violence, it will take the government’s continued effort to ensure that these risks do not escalate.
– Meredith Charney