‘There is an asymmetrical war between sheer power and values in Turkey’

The number of minors in the job market has risen to some 893,000, with half of them being unable to continue with their education, a children rights committee within the Edirne Bar Association has revealed.
In a statement to mark International Childrenand’s Rights Day on Friday, committee head Nurten Kasapoilu said the number of workers aged between six and 17 has reached an alarming 893,000 according to the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat), disclosing the spiraling plight of child laborers.
Given that the TurkStat figures referenced by Kasapoilu pertain to a survey conducted in 2012, the number of child laborers may well have edged up to the 1 million mark.
Apart from other severe problems including underage marriage, sexual abuse and murder, children in Turkey also struggle with underage employment, Kasapoilu said.
According to TurkStat data, there are 22.8 million people in the country under the age of 17, making up 29.4 percent of the population.
The Ankara-based Human Rights Association (iHD) said in a report released on Friday official figures pertaining to child labor only show the tip of the iceberg as some 8.4 million children also do housework.
The Diyarbakir branch of the Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples (MAZLUM-DER), in the meantime, highlighted the same issue in a statement, saying the child labor problem is especially prevalent in southeastern provinces with children as young as 11 being employed as seasonal agricultural workers.
Among the major factors of the child labor crisis is the agricultural sector, which employs entire families of seasonal laborers. Children work alongside their families in the fields despite labor laws forbidding this practice. Child labor is also a common occurrence in the construction sector where unregistered employment is widespread.
The bar associations of 24 provinces also penned a joint statement in a bid to highlight Turkeyand’s standing regarding the protection of child rights. The statement said as a signatory of the UNand’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, Turkey should ensure the best interests of children.
Addressing the employment of Syrian children, the statement read: and”With the rise of the refugee movements [in recent years], complicated problems including child deaths, child labors, begging, child prostitution and trafficking have seen an increase.and”
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report early this month more than 400,000 Syrian refugee children in Turkey are unable to attend school, disclosing a newly emerged trend in which companies exploit the workforce of minors apart from working-age Syrians to benefit from lower employment costs.


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