Child labor in Egypt
Child labour is work that may harm children or keep them away from education. It is a disaster on edge, a world wide known scene is the working child. You can see them every where especially in developing countries, rural areas. To the degree that you can forget that it’s a big catastrophe that really concerns our families and communities. Our hope in those children fades into a black ugly future. Child labor is work that harms children or keeps them from attending school. I do believe that Poverty and the lack of education are the most important reasons for child labor, especially in the agrarian sector. Other reports show that the policies of market liberalization contribute greatly to the spread of this phenomenon and the violation of children’s rights to care and protection. More over Consequences of child labor are crystal clear which do affect the psychological state and their health; causes are varied according to the community, needs, traditions and the knowledge raising level. However solutions are always available if we do care to reach them. This essay examines the problem of child labor and its causes and effects, together with the required measures needed in order to prevent the serious issues that could be disastrous and life threatening on Egyptian children.
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First we have to define the word child; the meaning could be based on different aspects, some can refer to puberty age as a quite end of childhood thus boys of 13 and girls of 10 are supposed to be mature and not children anymore, in my opinion this is the peek of injustice. Other can refer to the education years, so that after secondary education you are more of a man knowing that you completed about 16 years old, much better opinion yet not really satisfying. Others do prefer the medically word reaching, being mature by 21, and that is quite fair but it won’t ever be considered as a minimum working age in our country. So the word actually differs from one culture to another, and as a result laws should be imposed on that part which I think that it’s effective when discussing that problem, the real age of working should be settled under the supervision of lots of medical and psychological doctors to reach the optimum age where we can say that working man is not more a child labor.
When thinking about it, there are a lot of complexities and considerations that should be taken wisely and handled carefully to achieve the best results. First we have to know or even passing by the psychology of the child. It is well known that his psychology and his mental state structure are really different from the mature ones, they had their own thinking and their own bright colored captivated world, it should be mingled with joy and happiness, play and developing themselves step by step but in insuring way, to discover their own world through their families, their bodies and souls. An important stage that will surely affect our lives in the future, what if that part of his life is removed, depriving him from his rights, but even adding a lot of responsibilities on his back? They will surely age quickly and die much younger. Few can consider it a benefit that working early in your life would grow the reliability and the responsibility features in the kid of 8 years, I’m totally against it, they think that those aren’t human but more of computers, the more you give, the more you take, its more like feeding a new born baby the usual meals of a grown man.
Being a thief, that what someone can call himself when he orders a kid to work, stealing his best part of his life, his childhood, he is aging him so early that the child could come to a certain point and got lost just from tiredness. “Children are bullied, isolated and shut out of school. They are missing out on education. They are missing out on medicines. Children are missing your love, care and protection.” (Jackie Chan) Children have special needs that should be fulfilled first before going to work like basic needs of food, shelter, emotions, and love and caring. It is believed that the last one is the most important thing to produce a reasonable state and a man later.
The fact of choosing has to be considered also, had the child has the right of choosing being a labour or not, most of them had been ordered to work either by their parents or any other member of their family. What can a child aged 6 years offer to a family or even his country? Nothing actually he loads on it. Thus parents should think for the best of their children and stop selfishness and lust for money.
Some families may send their own children to what is called an easy work, like a delivery guy or something rather than sending them to hard work like coal mining work and all that work concerning efforts and great deals of concentration. But actually work is a work, whether it’s easy or hard, physical or mental involved work. All work involves a challenge and still those easy worked labors do called child labors. Parents and the government are fully responsible for the appearance of such devastating scenes in the street and it huge spread.
The few pounds that a child earns really would never make such a big difference.
Normally children are paid fewer wages than adults, this does not make parents feel proud to see their child working and spending his money on satisfying the basic needs of the home, or greedy aims that had turned family members into monsters that can deprive their child from the colorful and respectful life again, even animals do not let their children hunt food or go on their own.
Thus fear do control our children, they can do everything even the impossible just to feel safe no more. Parents also fear their hidden entrusted future, so they use their children as a life grasping tool in order to overcome the worse which is life. They do refer that they care about them the most and at the same time they are driving them to hell, moving them out of schools, creating small rude bullies deprived from any good manners that we really need to plant it in our children those days. Some may sympathies with those parents; one may say that they got nothing but their children to make their living. Maybe the parents were too old ore even disabled, thus there is no way from abusing and seducing their children.
Birth control is a huge issue that threatens the futures of all children. This will increase the level of poverty which forces kids to leave education and go to work to support their families “There is abject poverty in Egypt, so families use children as breadwinners,” (Nevine Osman Dec 4, 2006). There will be lack of job chances with more competition in case of failure to control birth. Starting campaigns to tell people about ways of controlling birth and what are the problems of having lots of children. They will also know how to change their lifestyle and their way of thinking in life which will help them generally in their lives.
Traditions play a very important role here, for example land lord, and would prefer to move his child out of school to help him in planting and cropping fields. Not a money need problem, but a tradition that a son should be always be his father’s eyes and soul, he should imitate him, stick at his back, moving out of his personality and wear his father’s, depriving him from his right of choice, being a copy cat of his father, being of no use in the whole community. He would fail to success and he would fail to return to him self once more which could trigger a lot of psychological problems in those children when they grow up. Jealousy could rush out extremely which would be very dangerous on the child, he would turn into a greedy person, who envy his friends if he would still have any, also he will hold a lot of greed towards his family. And it is not his fault, but his parent’s.
In many rural areas where education is not strong enough there to make a difference; because of the lack of schools or it is too expensive to afford, some families may not trust education, they were not educated and thus they introduce to the new world arrogant people that will surely be a load on the whole community.
This practice is considered exploitative by manyinternational organizationsand is illegal in many countries. Child labor was exploited to varying extents through most of history, but entered public strife with the arrival ofuniversal education, with changes in working conditions during theindustrial revolution, and with the emergence of the concepts ofworkers’ andchildren’s rights. During theIndustrial Revolution, can’t imagine that young children of only four were employed in production factories with horrible, and almost fatal, working conditions.Based on this issue of abusing children, now developed countries turned to be ahuman rightsinfringement, and are outlawed, however some poorer countries may accept or even encourage child labour. Charles Dickensfor example worked at the age of 12 with his poor family in a blackening factory of a certain prison and his suffering really appeared in his writings from Oliver Twist and others.
Supple boys were employed by the chimney sweeps; tiny children were entitled to crawl under machinery to retrieve cotton seeds; above it children were ordered to work incoal minesto scramble through low and narrow tunnels which can’t be reached by older men. They worked as undertaking boys, crossing sweepers. They do deserve your deepest pity and mine too.
A high number of children also worked asprostitutes.Children as young as three were put to business. In coal mines children began work at the age of four and regularly died before the age of 24. Many children worked over than 16 hour days. Some of those poor creatures worked as tourists guides, entitled to bring in business for shops and restaurants and there they may work as well as waiters. They are given a lot of tedious and repetitive jobs like assembling boxes, polishing shoes, pilling up a store’s products. However, most child labor occurs in the informal sector, “selling many things on the streets, at work in agriculture orhidden away in houses—far from the reach of official labor inspectors and from media scrutiny.” (Mubarak, Susan (2002)). And all the work that they did was done in all types of weather; and was also done for minimal pay. As long as there is family poverty there will be child labor.
According toUNICEF, there are about 158 million children aged 6 to 14 in child labors worldwide, excluding child domestic labor. TheUnited Nationsand theInternational Labor Organizationconsider child labour exploitative,with the UN stipulating, in article 32 of theConvention on the Rights of the Childthat:
States Parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.(Convention on the Rights of the Child – 29thDecember 2009). Also globally there is an estimated count of 250 million children working.
Concerns have normally been raised over the buying public’s ethical conspiracy in buying products gathered or even produced insome developing countrieswith child labour; on the other side others have raised concerns thatboycottingproducts manufactured using child labour may direct these children to more back-breaking or gruelling professions, such as prostitution or even peculation.
Child labor is a pressing issue in Egypt and the world, Egypt is well known of its high quality cotton and its enormous cotton fields, thus most of families in delta do rely on farming. Researches showed that the children employed there work long hours, routinely face beatings at the hands of foremen, and are poorly protected against pesticides and heat. Working eleven hours a day, seven days a week. The children inspect cotton plants for leaf worm eggs and manually remove infected portions of leaves. Actually children were cheaper to hire, more obedient, and had the “appropriate height” for inspecting cotton plants. Majority of them are between the ages of seven and twelve who earn on average three Egyptian pounds (less than one U.S. dollar) each day. Knowing that Temperatures in Nile Delta cotton fields can reach 40 degrees Celsius. Added to it, Requests for water are granted at the discretion of the foremen. Most of children recounted routine beatings with wooden switches by foremen whenever a child was perceived to be slowing down or overlooking leaves. They are humiliated, we were alarmed, but where is the action? Children resumed work on cotton fields either immediately after pesticide spraying or after twenty-four to forty-eight hours, a period that falls short of the recommended intervals for reentry after the use of certain pesticides registered for use in Egypt.
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Article 124 of the Egypt Labor Act No. 91 of 1959 stipulates that no child under 12 years of age may be employed under any circumstances and sets the minimum age at 15 years for some hazardous industries. Labor Law 137 of 1981 states that children between the ages of 12 and 15 are allowed to work 6 hours a day, but not after 7:00 p.m. Decrees No. 12 and 13 issued by the Ministry of Manpower and Vocational Training in 1982 specify various hazardous jobs and industries where the employment of children under 15, in a few cases, and 17, in other cases, are prohibited. (Child Labor in Export Industries) The government is currently considering revisions to its labor code. Where the draft legislation being discussed would raise the minimum age for work to 14 years and would establish a number of conditions and protections for working children between the ages of 14 and 17.
In the formal sector, particularly in the state-owned factories where most of export production is concentrated, local trade unions report that Egypt’s labor laws were well enforced. By contrast, there appears to be little effort by the government to oversee conditions in the informal sector. Small factories and workshops are occasionally subject to labor inspections although working conditions for children, as well as adults, often remain in violation of labor laws.The Ministry of Manpower noted that its 2,000 labor inspectors cited 72,000 violations stemming from 500,000 site visits in 1993.On the other hand, independent studies and interviews indicate that many employers view the inspectors as ineffective, at best.
The most recent effort to address child labor in Egypt was the 1994 child labor workshops for government labor inspectors, jointly sponsored by the ILO International Program for the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC) and the Egyptian Ministry of Manpower and Training. UNICEF also has an active program which conducts and sponsors research on child labor. Interviews with several trade unions, the Egyptian Trade Union Federation and the Arab Labor Organization revealed little activity regarding child labor. The unions are active in the formal sector of the economy where they say child labor does not exist.
Egyptian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) focus primarily on research and action to ameliorate the worst aspects of child labor. For example, groups conduct training sessions to teach children a marketable skill in non-hazardous industries, such as sewing. They operate health clinics and literacy programs as well as child care centers for working mothers. Campaigns are underway to raise public awareness of the detrimental effects of child labor. Still other NGOs work to promote government enforcement of existing child labor laws, particularly prohibitions against children working excessive hours, at night, or in hazardous industries.
Government should pay monthly salaries to the families who live beyond the poverty lines and others who are incapable to work, to help them bare with their children’s education fees and replace the salary that children used to take. They should know that in case of making their children also work besides the salary the already take, they will not be able to have the monthly salary. Also medical services should be available in cheap prices to cure the effects of labour on children before they go to school to benefit education to the most and also be able to deal with new people from higher or lower levels and how to not get affected by lower ones and get forward to try to be like higher levels.
“When the lives and the rights of children are at stake, there must be no silent witnesses.”- Carol Bellamy. Child labour inspectors should be hired by the government to trace any child labour and report labourers who deserve to be prosecuted like any other criminal.
Summing up, child labour is an unacceptable and an inhumanly issue that we should deal with it with much care, it always pushes people to think about the causes of poverty, lack of education, families strictly unbearable lust for wealth; and the consequences from creating a whole uneducated bullies of generations, of no use for our community but it also perpetuates poverty and affects national economies through losses in competitiveness, productivity and potential income. Withdrawing children from child labour, providing them with education and assisting their families with training and employment opportunities contribute directly to creating decent work for adults and put them as Egyptians on the top of the world where it can be considered as an essential step to grab the world’s attention to our efforts in order to be a well developed country, Egypt will no more be a third world country.
Bellamy, Carol, (1995-2004) Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
(Child Labor in Export Industries) retrieved from http://www.dol.gov/ilab/media/reports/iclp/sweat/egypt.htm
(Convention on the Rights of the Child)Retrieved (29thDecember 2009) from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm)
(Mubarak, Susan (5/5/2002) The first Global Report on Child Labor (A future without child labour) retrieved (3rdJanuary 2010) from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_labour).
Osman, Nevine (Dec 4, 2006) Egyptian children trade childhood for money retrieved from (http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSSP22649220061204)
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