Fight Against Child Labour

Child labor is a very important social and economic human rights problem, it is the most brutal form of labor exploitation. A systematic struggle is needed both in Turkey and in the world against the risk of increasing economic inequalities, migration and unemployment and the spread of child labor.

Contrary to the world examples, the crisis process has created a serious increase in employment in the agricultural sector, especially for Turkey. The agricultural sector is seen as one of the areas where insecurity is most common. As a matter of fact, TURKSTAT 2012 Child Labor Statistics reveals the increase in the number of children working in agriculture during the crisis period. In addition, it is known that adults who lost their jobs in areas where lawlessness is dominant are replaced by children as a workforce that is not included in the cost calculations. Again, in impoverished families, maintaining daily life may become dependent on the income of the children. It is possible to say that some of the domestic care services, which is one of the biggest obstacles to women’s participation in the labor market, fall on the children through the women who are dragged into working life in crisis conditions due to the state’s failure to provide qualified, widespread and free care services as a social responsibility. Again, the increase in the number of children working at home in the TÜİK 2012 Child Labor Statistics clearly reveals this.


Children increasingly undertake the production of domestic services (child care and elderly care, cleaning, meals, etc.). children; Before living the dreams of childhood, without being able to use the right to be a child, without benefiting from the right to education, they are taken from the warm environment of the family and either handed over to the invisible hand of the free market or made a part of the invisible domestic labor.

Deprivation of education, adult unemployment, informal work, violations of union rights, and poverty of families in the midst of flexible and insecure working conditions increase the abuse of child labor and cause them to be deprived of education. Again, this process is fed by the 4+4+4 system and the latest regulations made in the field of education. This report presents the developments in child labor based on the results of the Turkish Statistical Institute Child Labor Statistics 1994, 1999, 2007, 2012 and the International Labor Organization ILO 2000-2004 and 2004-2008 trend research.


Child labor is seen as a serious problem in terms of human development. While one out of every 5 children in the world is forced to work, these children are deprived of a healthy environment and basic freedoms, and are employed in conditions that harm their physical, social, cultural, emotional and educational development. Child labor continues to constitute the most exploited segment as unpaid or cheap labor. Against this, studies are carried out to eliminate child abuse in the field of labor around the world. ILO’s “Minimum Age Convention” No. 138 and Convention No. 182 “On Ending the Worst Forms of Child Labor” are some of the steps taken in this area. The “International Program for the Prevention of Child Labor (IPEC)” was initiated as one of the programs serving this purpose. Simultaneously with these programs, National governments are also taking various initiatives. However, the possibilities of producing a solution with such temporary programs regarding child labor, which is a structural problem, are extremely limited. In this process, where irregularity and flexibility increasingly put the working life under pressure, concrete policies in favor of labor are needed to take permanent steps.

As of 2008, the number of children between the ages of 5-17 is 1 billion 586 million, while the number of working children (5-17 years old) is 306 million. The number in question is only 17 million less than in 2004. However, this decrease is not valid for all groups. For example, while the employment of children aged 5-14 years decreased from 196 million to 176 million between 2004-2008, employment for children aged 15-17 increased by 2 million from 127 million to 129 million in the same period. This rate for boys was 4.5 points higher than for girls. Accordingly, 16 out of every 100 boys aged 15-17 were counted in employment. In total, one out of every 5 children between the ages of 5-17 is in employment.

Employment for the worst forms of child labor stood at 115 million in 2008. 74 million of the boys and 41 million of the girls were exposed to this type of work. There is an increase in this type of work for 15-17 age groups. The number of children working in the worst working conditions for this age group increased from 52 million to 62 million in 4 years.

While there is a decrease in the participation of children in employment for the whole world, an increase in child labor is observed in Sub-Saharan Africa. (…)


The flexibility of the labor market and widespread deregulation are behind the lack of satisfactory results despite the efforts to prevent child labour. The fight against child labor has become a worldwide accepted issue. However, the data is not very encouraging.

The number of our children working both at home and in economic activities is increasing. One of the main reasons for this is unregulated, insecure work. If the government is sincere in the fight against child labor, it should first pave the way for fundamental rights and freedoms in the field of labor, stop restricting freedoms, and fulfill the requirements of international conventions. The only way to get rid of children’s exploitation of labor and the irregularity of labor markets is through here.

With the 4+4+4 law enacted last year, the compulsory primary education age has been reduced to the 6-13 age range. In this case, the end age of secondary school also reduced the prevalence of child labor to 13, in effect.

Again under the title of flexibility, the effort to legalize working from home and remotely concerns 8 million children working at home.

The effort to make Turkey Europe’s China and eastern provinces Turkey’s China will create severe consequences in terms of child labour, practices such as apprenticeships and traineeships, as well as rulelessness, flexibility and insecurity. Competing with China in occupational accidents, Turkey now seems to have adopted an Asian-style model in child labor. The Cheap Employment Strategy and the 4+4+4 system are the expressions of the effort to create the basis for this.

Child labor should be seen as a structural result of employment strategies rising on the ground of poverty and insecurity. Therefore, the fight against child labor is based on this strategy.


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