Iraq – The tragedy of child labor in Iraq amid inability to enforce laws
Child labor in Iraq has skyrocketed to what the Iraqi Ministry of Labor has described as the “worst” in the country’s history amid the authorities’ inability to curb the increase in child exploitation.
Laws to combat the phenomenon were not implemented due to the weakness of the oversight committees, which contributed to the exacerbation of this issue.
Trade unionists and officials attributed the spread of the phenomenon of child labor to the economic and security conditions in the country, in addition to the irregular work sector.
The laws of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs in Iraq stipulate that an employer who employs children be punished with a fine, or by suspending their permit or activity.
Internationally, the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Article (32-1) says: “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.”
According to the High Commission for Human Rights in Iraq, the rate of child labor in Iraq is estimated to be around 2%.
The organization states that Iraqi children face the highest rate of poverty, as there are two poor children out of every five children in the country
Soundbite (Abdul Zahra Al Hindawi – Spokesman for the Ministry of Planning):
“The child labor sector falls under the category of the “vulnerable sector.” Due to the economic, security and social conditions, this phenomenon has spread. However, with the improvement of the country’s economic situation during the past three years and the return of the displaced to their homes, the child labor rate decreased to nearly 2%, with the percentage varying in the rest of the provinces, whether higher or lower.”
- Soundbite (Faten Abdel Ilah – Engineer):
“Keeping a child out of school is a major reason for joining begging gangs. A child does not work in the street on his own. There are organized groups, dealing with drugs and smoking, forming begging gangs made up of children. The future of the country is the future of children. If children are not taken care of, the country’s future is gone.”
- Soundbite (Tabarak Al-Lami – a lawyer):
“Today we see that two-thirds of the population of Iraq is going through difficult economic conditions, which forces children to work to support their families, and this exposes them to many problems such as harassment and humiliation. As a lawyer, many cases of this kind that are referred to Baghdad courts
- Soundbite (Esraa Al-Salman – human rights activist):
- “Recently, the phenomenon of child begging has increased. The main reason for the aggravation of the phenomenon is the inability of the parliament to enact any law to protect the Iraqi child. Many MPs opposed the child law, which protects children from any problems they face, denial of free education, and difficulty in accessing school seats. Begging is one of the reasons for the spread of the phenomenon of child labor, so child must be protected and provided with decent life. This phenomenon is evidence of the violation of international laws ratified by Iraq.”