News ID : 178000
Publish Date : 6/12/2024 9:06:46 PM
Hope fades with child labor

World Day Against Child Labor

Hope fades with child labor

NOURNEWS – According to United Nations statistics, there are approximately 160 million child labors worldwide, with Africa accounting for 72 million children, Asia and the Pacific 62 million, the Americas 11 million, and Europe 5.5 million. Out of these approximately 160 million child labors, nearly 63 million are girls and 97 million are boys.

The phenomenon of "child labor" as an economic and social issue is a major global problem that affects almost all countries to varying degrees. Since 2015, world leaders have committed to rooting out the phenomenon of child labor, but the reality is that a large number of child labors still exist, especially in countries facing military and political tensions. However, it is worth noting that according to UNICEF, the number of child labors in the world has decreased from 250 million in 2002 to 160 million in 2022.

The International Labor Organization and the United Nations designated June 12 as World Day Against Child Labor in 2002 to raise global awareness and promote efforts to tackle child Labor.

In Iran, child labor is also one of the most significant social problems. In addition to economic reasons, the presence of a large number of non-Iranian nationals in the country, who usually live in unfavorable living conditions, greatly increases the number of child labors.

According to the Social Studies Office of the Parliament Research Center, 15% of the country's children are involved in some form of work and are considered child labors. The report emphasizes that even though economic exploitation of children and adolescents has been criminalized by the Law on Protection of Children and Adolescents approved in 2020, employing children continues.

The report published in July-August 2023 highlights that estimating the actual number of child labors is difficult due to the widespread nature of child labor, including workshop and domestic work, as well as the difficulty in estimating the number of street children, who are mostly foreign children. Therefore, even the lowest estimates regarding child labor should be given extra attention.

 

Visible and invisible child labor

In order to properly define child labor, it is necessary to first understand the age range for childhood. According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Iran is a signatory to, any person under 18 years of age is considered a child. Therefore, anyone under 18 years old who is employed is a child labor. It is important to have a more accurate view of what is happening in the child labor market. Children and adolescents working mainly in big cities, especially Tehran, may seem so common to us that we pay less attention to them. Children like street vendors and waste collectors are often overlooked and can be called "invisible children." However, there are even more invisible children that you don't see.

According to a child labor activist, some children work in production workshops. He says, "Despite knowing that employing children is considered a crime, workshop owners hire children for various jobs such as carpentry, assembling parts, and producing clothing, bags, and shoes. The reason is that children receive lower wages and are not contracted, allowing employers to profit more. These children usually work long hours in non-standard workshops under poor conditions and earn very little income. During inspections, employers hide the children from inspectors to appear legal. As a result, the reported statistics of child labor are usually lower than the actual number."

But what causes children to be forced into work? The child activist responds, "Poverty is the most important factor in the prevalence of child labor. These children live in families with very poor economic conditions. Sometimes parents are also involved in addiction, and the child is forced to provide money for their drugs. Child labors are also exposed to the risks of addiction and other social harms. They are abandoned children in society who cannot defend themselves and are easily exploited."

 

Foreign national children, major child labors

The State Welfare Organization of Iran, which is responsible for organizing child labor, reports that over 60% of child labors and street children are foreign nationals. Lack of reforms in laws and policies regarding foreign nationals is hindering serious organization in the field of child labor by this organization.

"Children engaged in waste collection work are mainly Afghan nationals who enter Iran either with their fathers and uncles or alone, and are employed in waste collection workshops."

Another social activist who has been researching child labor for years states, "Afghan children sometimes enter Iran at a very young age, even under seven years old, through dangerous routes to be employed by waste collection contractors. This form of illegal migration has increased after the political events in Afghanistan. Although there are also Iranian children among waste collectors, most of them are Afghan, and some are Pakistani. When programs for organizing child labor are implemented, these children, who have no family or guardian, end up in a state of neglect and mostly return to the streets. They live in unsuitable conditions, and their living arrangements are mostly grim and group-based. Besides lacking access to proper nutrition and health care, they are often subjected to abuse by adults, which will have negative effects on their lives and may lead them to become abusers themselves in adulthood. For this reason, it is necessary to pay sufficient attention to all children, including child labors, for a healthy society."

According to the Statistical Center of the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare, in 2019, one-third of waste collectors in Tehran, approximately 4,700 individuals, were children. However, due to an increase in the migration of Afghan nationals, the number of these children has escalated significantly and some claim it has even grown tenfold.

Failure in organization

Simultaneously with the increase in the number of child labors and street children, programs for organizing these children by the State Welfare Organization of Iran and the municipality have been implemented. However, based on available evidence and statements from responsible authorities, these programs have practically failed. For instance, Ahmad Ahmadi Sadr, the CEO of the Welfare, Services, and Social Participation Organization of Tehran Municipality,, announced last December that despite 32 attempts by the State Welfare Organization of Iran to organize these children in the past year, the program had actually failed. Although the municipality is not responsible for organizing child labors and instead focuses on reducing harm and establishing facilities for child labor reduction, it has also been unable to take effective steps in this regard.

While the State Welfare Organization of Iran is primarily responsible for organizing child labors, community groups and even individual citizens can contribute to reducing the harm caused by child labor. For this to happen, child labor must not be recognized by anyone as legitimate. We need to accept that children should not have any work other than education and play and that child labor is never normal or acceptable. It is hoped that with this mindset, we can gradually take more serious action and change the negative image of child labor in society.

 


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