The collapse of the socialist regime in the early 1990s resulted in rapid impoverishment of the majority of the population due to high inflation, loss of jobs and income. Consequently, there has been a sharp increase in unemployment, alcoholism, family dysfunction and destruction of mutual support networks. These factors have contributed to children experiencing hardships including being subjected to abuse, violence and neglect, dropping out of school, leaving home, and/or living and working on the street to support their families.

The main child rights issue facing children in Mongolia is child maltreatment including violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. In 1998, it was estimated that one in every two children experiences violence. A lack of a clear legal framework and national strategy, coordinated mechanisms, trained workforce and adequate resources to respond to child protection issues exacerbates the problem even further.

Harmful traditional practices:

There are no grave harmful traditional practices against children. However, child rights organizations express concern over child jockeys, especially those taking part in long distance horse racing during extreme cold weather. The National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia estimates that there are 40 to 50 horse racing events each year, and at each event, approximately 2,000 children between the ages of 6 and 16 years are engaged as jockeys, which poses risks to the life and health of the children.

Children without appropriate care and children on the move:

Currently, it is estimated that there are 300 street children in Mongolia deprived of family care and protection and exposed to further abuse and violence. There is no nation-wide data on the number of children trafficked, however, there is growing concern about domestic child trafficking among human rights and children’s rights NGOs. For example, it is estimated that there are 140 child victims of exploitation in Ulaanbaatar city. Due to poverty and unemployment in the country, many Mongolian families are migrating to urban areas leading to a large number of migrant children having limited access to social services, including education and health care. In 2010, it was estimated that nearly 40,000 people migrated to the capital city, Ulaanbaatar. There is no data on refugee children in Mongolia.

Emergency situations and children:

Currently, there is no armed conflict or natural disaster affecting children; however, due to global climate change and other factors, Mongolia is becoming increasingly prone to natural and man-made disasters, including extremely harsh winters, earthquakes, floods, droughts and severe winds. These often result in a lack of access to health care, food scarcity and quality, loss of livelihoods, an interruption in education, mass rural to urban migration, and psychological trauma, as was seen during the 2009-2010 dzud (a natural disaster resulting from a combination of summer drought and heavy winter snow).

It is also reported that the surface water is drying up, vegetation is decreasing, water is becoming more mineralized, soil erosion is increasing, and desertification is spreading in Mongolia. There are also criticisms by civil society organizations on the poor management of natural resource exploitation and protection of the environment. These factors could have significant impacts on families’ livelihoods and thus children’s wellbeing.

Furthermore, Mongolia can be considered as a politically unstable country, as was seen during the public riots following the July 2008 parliamentary elections, where many protested over allegations of government vote-rigging. During this event, several adolescents and young people were arbitrarily detained and subjected to abuse and violence, and sentenced to imprisonment.

Child Labour:

It is estimated that 10 percent of children aged 7-14 years, a total of over 36,0000 children, were in employment in 2006. Children’s employment occurs predominantly in rural areas (agriculture and livestock sectors), mainly in the form of livestock herding. Boys aged 7-14 age years are more likely to be in employment than girls. Furthermore, many children are estimated to be engaged in the worst forms of child labour including working at informal gold and coal mines.

Corporal Punishment:

Corporal punishment is prohibited by law since March 2016. However Corporal punishment of children is accepted by the public as a traditional means to educate and discipline children. In 2005, research involving 607 children and 40 adults conducted as part of comparative research among 8 countries in Asia, found that the prevalence of hitting as a punishment for children aged 10-13 years was 45.6%, other direct assault 5%, indirect assault 9%, deliberate neglect 1.2% and verbal attack 33.8%. 

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