Data Dashboards

Sri Lanka
Measurement
Measuring the Change

using prevalence data providing the widest temporal coverage of the most complete and comparable measures available by ICLS standards.

Child labour between 1999 and 2009 decreased by 43%.

-43%

1999- 2009

Best 8.7 Data: Child Labour Rate


The data visualization displays yearly child labour statistics based on a variety of nationally-representative household surveys. All years of data hold up to standards set by interagency collaboration between ILO, UNICEF and World Bank, though, in some cases are not perfectly comparable between years. Detailed information on each data point is provided in the Measurement tab (above).

Data Availability
  • Child labour: ILO/UNICEF data
  • Forced labour: No nationally representative data
  • Human trafficking: No nationally representative data
Context
Human Development

Human Development Index Score: 0.766 (2015)

Mean School Years: 10.9 years (2015)

Labour Indicators

Vulnerable Employment: 43.1% (2013)

Working Poverty Rate: 4.0% (2016)

Government Efforts
Key Ratifications
  • ILO Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, P029: Not ratified
  • ILO Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, C182: Ratified 2002
  • UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol): Ratified 2015
Social Protection Coverage

General (at least one): 30.4% (2016)

Unemployed: 0% (2013)

Pension: 25.2% (2016)

Vulnerable: 4.4% (2016)

Children: No data

Disabled: 20.8% (2016)

Poor: 51.5% (2016)

Measurement of child labour prevalence has evolved considerably over the past two decades. Estimates of child labour incidence are more robust and exist for more countries than any other form of exploitation falling under SDG Target 8.7.

Child Labour Rate, Aged 5-17 (Source: ILO)

Based on the international conventions and the International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS)  resolution, and consistent with the approach utilized in the ILO global child labour estimates exercise, the statistical definition of child labour used includes:

a) children aged 5-11 years in all forms of economic activity;
b) children aged 12-14 years in all forms of economic activity except permissible “light” work;
c) children and adolescents aged 15-17 years in hazardous work; and
d) children aged 5-14 years performing household chores for at least 21 hours per week.

In Sri Lanka, the percentage of child labourers has decreased overall from 1999 to 2009.

The chart displays differences in the percentage of children aged 5-17 in child labour by sex. Complete disaggregated data to compare groups by region is not provided for 1999 and 2009.

Children in Hazardous Work, Aged 5-14 (Source: ILO)

Hazardous child labour is the largest category of the worst forms of child labour with an estimated 73 million children aged 5-17 working in dangerous conditions in a wide range of sectors. Worldwide, the ILO estimates that some 22,000 children are killed at work every year.

In Sri Lanka, the latest estimates show that 6.3 percent of children aged 5-14 were engaged in hazardous work in 2009. The number is lower than the estimate of 11.5 percent of children aged 5-14 engaged in hazardous work in 1999.

The chart displays differences in the percentage of children aged 5-14 in hazardous labour by sex and region. Complete disaggregated data to compare groups by region is not provided for 1999.

Children in Hazardous Work, Aged 15-17 (Source: ILO)

Children aged 15-17 are permitted to engage in economic activities by international conventions in most cases, except when the work is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children (Article 3 (d) of ILO Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, 1999 (No. 182)).

In Sri Lanka, the latest estimates show that 17.7 percent of children aged 15-17 were engaged in hazardous work in 2009. The percentage is lower than the estimate of 30.2 percent of children aged 15-17 engaged in hazardous child labour in 1999.

The chart displays differences in the percentage of children aged 15-17 in hazardous labour by sex and region. Complete disaggregated data to compare groups by region is not provided for 1999.

Weekly Work Hours, Children Aged 5-14 (Source: ILO)

Children aged 5-11 are considered to be subjected to child labour when engaging in any form of economic activity. Children aged 12-14 are permitted to engage in “light” work that is not considered hazardous and falls below 14 hours per week.

According to the latest 2009 estimates, the average number of hours worked per week by children aged 5-14 in Sri Lanka was 7.3 hours. The average number of hours worked has decreased from 9 hours in 1999.

The chart displays differences in the number of hours that children aged 5-14 work in economic activities by sex and region. The sample includes all children of this age group. Complete disaggregated data to compare groups is not provided for 1999.

Weekly Work Hours, Children Only in Economic Activity, Aged 5-14 (Source: ILO)

Children not attending school who are engaged in economic activity can be subjected to longer working hours.

In 2009, the latest year with available data, children in economic activity only, meaning they are not in school, worked an average of 22.5 hours per week. This number has decreased since 1999, when the average number of hours worked by this age group was 36.3.

The chart displays differences in the number of hours worked by children aged 5-14 who are not in school, by sex and region. Complete disaggregated data to compare groups by region is not provided for 1999.

Weekly Hours Household Chores, Children Aged 5-14 (Source: ILO)

Researchers recognize that children involved in economic activities are not the only children working. The ICLS recommended definition of child labour includes performing household chores for at least 21 hours per week for children aged 5-14.

Children aged 5-14, on average, are found to work on household chores 4.5 hours per week according to the 2009 estimate. This estimate represents a decrease in hours worked across all age groups since the last estimate in 1999, which found that children aged 5-14 in Sri Lanka worked an average of 5.6 hours per week.

The chart displays differences in the number of hours children aged 5-14 work on household chores by sex and region. Complete disaggregated data to compare groups by region is not provided for 1999.

Children in Economic Activity by Sector, Aged 5-14: Total (Source: ILO)

Identifying the sectors in which the most child labour exists can help policy actors and practitioners target efforts toward those industries.

The latest data available on child labour by sector for Sri Lanka is from 2009. By the 2009 estimate, the Agriculture sector had the most child labourers, followed by the Commerce, Hotels and Restaurants sector and the Manufacturing sector.

The chart to the right displays child labour prevalence in each sector for all children. The charts below show the differences in child labour by sector with comparisons between groups by sex and region.

Children in Economic Activity by Sector, Aged 5-14: Sex (Source: ILO)
Children in Economic Activity by Sector, Aged 5-14: Area (Source: ILO)

Measuring the incidence of forced labour is a much more recent endeavour and presents unique methodological challenges compared to the measurement of child labour.

No nationally representative data is available on forced labour prevalence in Sri Lanka.

Visit the How to Measure the Change page for information on new guidelines presented by the International Labour Organization and adopted by the International Conference of Labour Statisticians.

The challenges in estimating human trafficking are similar to those of estimating forced labour, though recent innovations in estimation have begun to produce prevalence estimates in developed countries.

No nationally representative data is available on human trafficking prevalence in Sri Lanka.

Visit the How to Measure the Change page to learn about measuring human trafficking prevalence, including information on collecting data through national referral mechanisms and producing prevalence statistics using Multiple Systems Estimation (MSE).

Case Data: International and Non-Governmental Organizations

Civil society organizations (CSOs) focused on human trafficking victim assistance can serve as crucial sources of data through their ability to reach a population that is notoriously difficult to sample.

Counter Trafficking Data Collaborative (CTDC): The International Organization for Migration (IOM), Polaris and Liberty Asia have launched a global data repository on human trafficking, with data contributed by counter-trafficking partner organizations around the world. Not only does the CTDC serve as a central repository for this critical information, it also publishes normed and harmonized data from various organizations using a unified schema. This global dataset facilitates an unparalleled level of cross-border, trans-agency analysis and provides the counter-trafficking movement with a deeper understanding of this complex issue. Equipped with this information, decision makers will be empowered to create more targeted and effective intervention strategies.

Prosecution Data

UNODC compiles a global dataset on detected and prosecuted traffickers, which serves as the basis in their Global Report for country profiles. This information is beginning to paint a picture of trends over time, and case-specific information can assist investigators and prosecutors.

Key aspects of human development, such as poverty and lack of education, are found to be associated with risk of exploitation. Policies that address these issues may indirectly contribute to getting us closer to achieving Target 8.7.

Human Development Index (Source: UNDP)

The Human Development Index (HDI) is a summary measure of achievements in three key dimensions of human development: (1) a long and healthy life; (2) access to knowledge; and (3) a decent standard of living. Human development can factor into issues of severe labour exploitation in multiple ways.

The chart displays information on human development in Sri Lanka between 1990 and 2015. Only certain sample years have data disaggregated by sex.

The most recent year of the HDI, 2015, shows that the average human development score in Sri Lanka is 0.766. This score indicates that human development is high.

HDI Education Index (Source: UNDP)

Lack of education and illiteracy are key factors that make both children and adults more vulnerable exploitive labour conditions.

As the seminal ILO report Profits and Poverty explains:

“Adults with low education levels and children whose parents are not educated are at higher risk of forced labour. Low education levels and illiteracy reduce employment options for workers and often force them to accept work under poor conditions. Furthermore, individuals who can read contracts may be in a better position to recognize situations that could lead to exploitation and coercion.”

The bars on the chart represent the Education Index score and the line traces the mean years of education in Sri Lanka over time.

Decent work, a major component of SDG 8 overall, has clear implications on the forms of exploitation within Target 8.7. Identifying shortcomings in equitable, safe and stable employment can be a step in the right direction towards achieving Target 8.7.

HDI Vulnerable Employment (Source: UNDP)

There are reasons to believe that certain types of labour and labour arrangements are more likely to lead to labour exploitation. According to the ILO:

“Own-account workers and contributing family workers have a lower likelihood of having formal work arrangements, and are therefore more likely to lack elements associated with decent employment, such as adequate social security and a voice at work. The two statuses are summed to create a classification of ‘vulnerable employment’, while wage and salaried workers together with employers constitute ‘non-vulnerable employment’.”

Between 1990 and 2013, Sri Lanka showed an increase in the proportion of workers in vulnerable employment as compared to those in secure employment.

Working Poverty Rate (Source: ILO)

Labour income tells us about a household’s vulnerability. As the ILO explains in Profits and Poverty:

“Poor households find it particularly difficult to deal with income shocks, especially when they push households below the food poverty line. In the presence of such shocks, men and women without social protection nets tend to borrow to smooth consumption, and to accept any job for themselves or their children, even under exploitative conditions.”

ILO indicators that measure poverty with respect to the labour force include working poverty rate, disaggregated by sex, with temporal coverage spanning from 2000 to 2016. The chart displays linear trends in working poverty rate over time for all individuals over 15 years of age.

Labour Productivity (Source: ILO)

Labour productivity is an important economic indicator that is closely linked to economic growth, competitiveness, and living standards within an economy.”  However, when increased labour output does not produce rising wages, this can point to increasing inequality. As indicated by a recent ILO report (2015), there is a “growing disconnect between wages and productivity growth, in both developed and emerging economies.” The lack of decent work available increases the vulnerability of individuals to situations of labour exploitation.

Labour productivity represents the total volume of output (measured in terms of Gross Domestic Product, GDP) produced per unit of labour (measured in terms of the number of employed persons) during a given period.

Rates of Non-fatal Occupational Injuries (Source: ILO)

Occupational injury and fatality data can also be crucial in prevention and response efforts.

As the ILO explains:

“Data on occupational injuries are essential for planning preventive measures. For instance, workers in occupations and activities of highest risk can be targeted more effectively for inspection visits, development of regulations and procedures, and also for safety campaigns.”

There are serious gaps in existing data coverage, particularly among groups that may be highly vulnerable to labour exploitation. For example, few countries provide information on injuries for migrant and non-migrant workers.

Rates of Fatal Occupational Injuries (Source: ILO)

Data on occupational health and safety may reveal conditions of exploitation, even if exploitation may lead to under-reporting of workplace injuries and safety breaches. At present, the ILO collects data on occupational injuries, both fatal and non-fatal, disaggregating by sex and migrant status.

Research to date suggests that a major factor in vulnerability to labour exploitation is broader social vulnerability, marginalization or exclusion.

Groups Highly Vulnerable to Exploitation

Creating effective policy to prevent and protect individuals from forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour means making sure that all parts of the population are covered, particularly the most vulnerable groups, including migrants.

According to the 2016 Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: “Almost one of every four victims of forced labour were exploited outside their country of residence, which points to the high degree of risk associated with migration in the modern world, particularly for migrant women and children.”

As IOM explains: “Although most migration is voluntary and has a largely positive impact on individuals and societies, migration, particularly irregular migration, can increase vulnerability to human trafficking and exploitation.” UNODC similarly notes that: “The vulnerability to being trafficked is greater among refugees and migrants in large movements, as recognized by Member States in the New York declaration for refugees and migrants of September 2016.”

The chart displays UNHCR’s estimates of persons of concern in Sri Lanka.

Achieving SDG Target 8.7 will require national governments to take direct action against the forms of exploitation through policy implementation.

Official Definitions
Forced Labour

Penal Code, Ordinance No. 2 of 1883, amend. Penal Code (Amendment) Act, No. 16 of 2006
Section 358A.3. “forced or compulsory labour” means all work or service which is exacted from a person under the threat of any penalty and for which such person has not offered himself voluntarily, except:

a. any work or service exacted by virtue of any law for the time being relating to compulsory military service in relation to work or service of a purely military character ;
b. any work or service which forms part of the normal civic obligations of the citizens of a fully self-governing country;
c. any work or service exacted from any person as a punishment imposed by a court of law, provided that the said work or service is carried out under the supervision and control of a public authority and that the said person is not hired to be or placed, at the disposal of private individuals, companies or associations;
d. any work or service exacted in cases of emergency, that is to say, in the event of war or of a calamity or threatened calamity, such as fire, flood, famine, earthquake, violent epidemic of epizootic diseases, invasion by animal, insect or vegetable pests, and in general any circumstance that would endanger the existence or the well-being of the whole or part of the population;
e. minor services of a kind which, being performed by the members of the community in the direct interests of the said community, and thereby considered as normal civic obligations incumbent upon the members of the community, provided that the members of the community or their direct representatives shall have the right to be consulted in regard to the need for such services;

Child Labour

Employment of Women, Young Persons, and Children Act, No. 47 of 1956

“Prohibits night work for women and persons younger than the age of 18; Part II prohibits the employment of children in general in industrial undertakings, except in family enterprises. Part III regulates child labour in undertakings other than industry or seafaring. ‘Child’ is defined as a person under 14 years of age.”

Worst Forms of Child Labour

Employment of Women, Young Persons, and Children Act, No. 47 of 1956 amend. Prohibition against persons under eighteen years of age being employed in hazardous occupations, 2006
Section 20A. No person under the age of eighteen years shall be employed in any hazardous occupation, which shall be prescribed in accordance with the guidelines specified in subsection 2.

Hazardous Occupations Regulations, 2010

“This regulation lists the 51 categories of work for which children may not be employed.”

Trafficking in Persons

Penal Code, Ordinance No. 2 of 1883, amend. Penal Code (Amendment) Act, No. 16 of 2006
Section 360C.1. Whoever:

a. buys, sells or barters or instigates another person to buy, sell or barter any person or does anything to promote, facilitate or induce the buying, selling or bartering of any person for money or other consideration;
b. recruits, transports, transfers, harbours or receives any person or does any other act by the use of threat, force, fraud, deception or inducement or by exploiting the vulnerability of another for the purpose of securing forced or compulsory labour or services, slavery, servitude, the removal of organs, prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation or any other act which constitutes an offence under any law ;
c. recruits, transports, transfers, harbours or receives a child or does any other act whether with or without the consent of such child for the purpose of securing forced or compulsory labour or services, slavery, servitude or the removal of organs, prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation, or any other act which constitutes an offence under any law

360C.3. In this section: “child” means a person under eighteen years of age ; “forced or compulsory labour” has the same meaning as in section 358A; “slavery” has the same meaning as in section 358A; and “exploiting the vulnerability of another” means impelling a person to submit to any act, taking advantage of such person’s economic, cultural or other circumstances.

Slavery

Penal Code, Ordinance No. 2 of 1883, amend. Penal Code (Amendment) Act, No. 16 of 2006
Section 358A.3 “slavery” means the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised

Debt Bondage

Penal Code, Ordinance No. 2 of 1883, amend. Penal Code (Amendment) Act, No. 16 of 2006
Section 358A.3. “debt bondage” means the status or condition of a debtor arising from a pledge by the debtor of his personal services or of those of a person under his control as security for a debt, if the value of those services as reasonably assessed is not set – off against the debt and the length and nature of those services are undefined;

Serfdom

Penal Code, Ordinance No. 2 of 1883, amend. Penal Code (Amendment) Act, No. 16 of 2006
Section 358A.3. “serfdom” means the condition or status of a tenant who is by law, custom or agreement bound to live and labour on land belonging to another person and to render some determinate service to such other person whether for reward or not and is not free to change his status;

International Commitments
National Strategies

National Strategic Plan to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking (2015-2019)

“Aims to combat human trafficking by raising stakeholder awareness, improving victim protection services, increasing prosecution of human trafficking cases, and conducting research and data collection. Seeks also to improve coordination among the Anti-Trafficking Task Force members.”

Sri Lanka’s Roadmap 2016 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour (2011-2016)

“Specifies time-bound goals to develop or strengthen the management, coordination, implementation, resource mobilization, and reporting of programs that will lead to the elimination of the worst forms of child labor by 2016. Provide district-level mainstreaming strategies to address specific sectors of child labor, including armed conflict, plantations, fisheries, and tourism. Outlines strategies to include child labor issues in social protection and education goals.”

International Ratifications

ILO Forced Labour Convention, C029, Ratified 2002

ILO Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, C105, Ratified 2007

ILO Minimum Age Convention, C138, Ratified 1997

ILO Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, C182, Ratified 2002

Slavery Convention 1926 and amended by the Protocol of 1953, Accession 1963

UN Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, Accession 1963

UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol) , Ratified 2015

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Ratified 1990

UN Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child: Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Ratified 2007

UN Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child: Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, Ratified 2006

Governments can take action to assist victims and to prevent and end the perpetration of forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour. These actions should be considered in efforts to reduce prevalence and move towards eradication of these forms of exploitation.

Programs and Agencies for Victim Support (Source: U.S. Department of Labor)

Policies for Assistance

Assistance to and Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses, No. 4 of 2015
Article 4. Entitlements of a Victim of Crime

1. A victim of crime shall be entitled to receive a sum of money from the Authority, in consideration of the expenses incurred as a result of the offence committed and his participation in any judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings before a court or Commission, pertaining to the alleged commission of an offence or an alleged infringement of a fundamental right or a violation of a human right.

2. Where necessary resources are available with the State, a victim of crime shall be entitled to claim and obtain from the State any required medical treatment, including appropriate medical services, medicine and other medical facilities, in respect of physical or mental injury, harm, impairment or disability suffered as a result of being a victim of crime and for necessary rehabilitation and counseling services.

3. Where due to absence or lack of necessary resources the State is unable to provide the services claimed by a victim of crime under subsection 2, such victim shall be entitled to apply to the Authority for financial assistance for the purpose of obtaining the required medical treatment for any physical or mental harm, injury or impairment suffered as a result of being a victim of crime and for any necessary rehabilitation and counseling services.

Article 28. Compensation

1. A victim of crime shall be entitled to receive a sum of money from the Authority, in consideration of the expenses incurred as a result of the offence committed and his participation in any judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings before a court or Commission, pertaining to the alleged commission of an offence or an alleged infringement of a fundamental right or a violation of a human right.

2. Where necessary resources are available with the State, a victim of crime shall be entitled to claim and obtain from the State any required medical treatment, including appropriate medical services, medicine and other medical facilities, in respect of physical or mental injury, harm, impairment or disability suffered as a result of being a victim of crime and for necessary rehabilitation and counseling services.

3. Where due to absence or lack of necessary resources the State is unable to provide the services claimed by a victim of crime under subsection 2, such victim shall be entitled to apply to the Authority for financial assistance for the purpose of obtaining the required medical treatment for any physical or mental harm, injury or impairment suffered as a result of being a victim of crime and for any necessary rehabilitation and counseling services.

Penalties
Penalties, Child Labour

Employment of Women, Young Persons, and Children Act, No. 47 of 1956 amend. Prohibition against persons under eighteen years of age being employed in hazardous occupations, 2006
Section 20A.3. Any person who employs a person under the age of eighteen years in contravention of subsection 1 of this section shall be guilty of offence and shall, on conviction after summary trial before a Magistrate, be liable to a fine not exceeding ten thousand rupees or to imprisonment of either description for a period not exceeding twelve months or to both such fine and imprisonment and shall in addition, be ordered to pay as compensation of such amount as may be determined by the Magistrate, to the person in respect of whom the offence was committed.

Penal Code, Ordinance No. 2 of 1883 amend. Penal Code (Amendment) Act, No. 16 of 2006
Section 358A.2. Debt bondage, serfdom, forced or compulsory labour, slavery and recruitment of children for use in armed conflict. Any person who is guilty of an offence under paragraph a, b or c of subsection 1, shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding twenty years and to a fine. Where the offence is committed under paragraphs a, b or c of subsection 1 in relation to a child or where the offence is committed under paragraph d of subsection 1, be liable to imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding thirty years and to a fine.

Penalties, General

Penal Code, Ordinance No. 2 of 1883 amend. Penal Code (Amendment) Act, No. 16 of 2006
360A. Any person who –

2. procures or attempts to procure any girl or woman to leave Sri Lanka (whether with or without her consent) with intent that she may be come the inmate of, or frequent, a brothel elsewhere, or removes or attempts to remove from Sri Lanka any girl or woman (whether with or without her consent) for the said purpose;

4. procures or attempts to procure an girl or woman (whether with or without her consent) to become, within or without Sri Lanka, a common prostitute;

Shall be guilty of an offence, and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment of either description for an period not exceeding two years, and if a male, in addition to any such imprisonment, to be whipped;

Provided that no person shall be convicted of any offence under this section upon the evidence of one witness, unless such evidence be corroborated in some material particular by evidence implicating the accused.

360C.2. Trafficking. Any person who is guilty of the offence of trafficking shall on conviction be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term not less than two years and not exceeding twenty years and may also be punished with fine and where such offence is committed in respect of a child, be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term not less than three years and not exceeding twenty years and may also be punished with fine.

361. whoever imports, exports, removes, buys, sells or disposes of any person as a slave, or accepts, receives, or detains against his will any person as a slave, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

362. Whoever habitually imports, exports, removes, buys, sells, traffics, or deals in slaves shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to fifteen years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Programs and Agencies for Enforcement (Source: U.S. Department of Labor)

Measures to address the drivers of vulnerability to exploitation can be key to effective prevention. A broad range of social protections are thought to reduce the likelihood that an individual will be at risk for exploitation, especially when coverage of those protections extends to the most vulnerable groups.

Social Protection Coverage: General (at Least One)
Social Protection Coverage (Source: ILO)

The seminal ILO paper on the economics of forced labour, Profits and Poverty, explains the hypothesis that social protection can mitigate the risks that arise when a household is vulnerable to sudden income shocks, helping to prevent labour exploitation. It also suggests that access to education and skills training can enhance the bargaining power of workers and prevent children in particular from becoming victims of forced labour. Measures to promote social inclusion and address discrimination against women and girls may also go a long way towards preventing forced labour.

If a country does not appear on a chart, this indicates that there is no recent data available for the particular social protection visualized.

Social Protection Coverage: Unemployed
Social Protection Coverage: Pension
Social Protection Coverage: Vulnerable Groups
Social Protection Coverage: Poor
Social Protection Coverage: Children
Social Protection Coverage: Disabled

Delta 8.7 has received no Official Response to this dashboard from Sri Lanka. If you are a representative of Sri Lanka and wish to submit an Official Response, please contact us here.