Past reports have ranked Mexico as the country with the second-highest rate of child labor in Latin America and the Caribbean. A recent study supports this trend.
Around 3.2 million Mexican children aged between five and 17 years old can be considered child laborers, according to new research by Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI).
Based on the same study, INEGI estimated that 900,000 of the children, approximately 36.9 percent, were not attending school in order to work.
“You just devote yourself to work and you’re proud that you no longer play with small children,” said one 16-year-old plantation worker in a 2016 interview with the news organization Al Jazeera. He said he was 12 years old when he started following fruit and vegetable harvests across Mexico, only seeing his family every 20 days and givingthem half of his salary.
The Network for Children Rights in Mexico (Redim) says poverty is the main reason child labor figures are so high, particularly among indigenous youth. Many end up working in precarious conditions, especially in the agricultural sector where there are few rules and regulations.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) is working to restrict child labor in Mexico by helping parents find reliable work so that their children do not have to compromise their educations.