Shafaq News / In commemoration of the International Day against Child Labor, observed annually on June 12, the global community unites in acknowledging the grave concern of child labor. Within the context of Iraq, statistical data reveals a distressing reality, with approximately 900,000 children engaged in various labor activities, primarily driven by factors such as unemployment and poverty.
Under the theme "Achieving social justice for all.. Ending Child Labor," this year's International Day against Child Labor aims to mobilize the burgeoning global movement against child labor and underscore the intrinsic connection between social justice and the eradication of child labor.
The UN Information Centre highlights the imperative of utilizing the occasion of World Day Against Child Labor 2023 to demonstrate that transformation can be accomplished through the convergence of determination and willpower, thereby bolstering the momentum of ongoing efforts that demand urgent acceleration.
Drawing from accumulated knowledge and experience amassed over the past three decades in combatting child labor, the international community has discerned that the cessation of child labor is indeed attainable when the underlying causes are addressed comprehensively. Consequentially, it becomes imperative to contribute to the identification and implementation of viable solutions that can effectively mitigate the daily challenges faced by individuals, among which the issue of child labor looms as one of the most conspicuous.
Su'ad al-Hayali, an advocate for children's rights, has noted that due to domestic violence and destitution, Iraqi children have experienced a premature aging process that compels them to abandon their education and engage in labor.
The International Labor Organization (I.L.O.) defines child labor as work that deprives children of their childhood, potential, and dignity, while also impeding their physical and mental development.
Since 2002, the I.L.O. has been urging the international community to take immediate and effective action to completely eliminate and prohibit child labor.
Anas al-Azzawi, a former member of the Human Rights Commission, has highlighted the concerning state of education in Iraq, citing UNICEF statistics that estimate the illiteracy rate at 47%. He further notes that children under the age of 10 constitute approximately 13% of this demographic, emphasizing the variability of these figures in annual estimations and the discrepancy between government and UN statistics.
Regarding child labor, the Ministry of Planning's statistics estimate the presence of around 900,000 children in the labor market. To ensure the protection of children's rights and combat domestic violence, Anas al-Azzawi emphasizes the necessity of implementing legal regulations. This includes adhering to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, amending regulations and guidelines for children in governmental institutions, and revising punitive provisions for children and juveniles in the Iraqi Penal Code.
It is worth noting that the International Labor Organization (I.L.O.) formulated a comprehensive set of standards in 1999 aimed at accelerating efforts to eradicate child labor and trafficking. These standards serve as guidelines for the employment of children in any capacity, establishing a minimum age for employment that should not be lower than the age of compulsory education.
Ali al-Tamimi, a legal expert, highlights the legal framework in place to address child labor in Iraq. According to the Iraqi constitution, Article 29 requires the provision of child, family, and maternity care. Additionally, Labor Law 37 of 2015 explicitly prohibits the employment of individuals under the age of 15. The law assigns responsibility to the Ministry of Labor, in coordination with the Ministry of Interior, to prevent such employment and warns employers accordingly under Article 95. In cases of persistent violations, the Labor Court is entrusted with holding the responsible parties accountable.
Africa ranks first with 72 million children in the labor market, while the Asia-Pacific region ranks second with 62 million. Up to nine out of ten children are collectively categorized as child labor in the African and Asia-Pacific areas, with 11 million working in the Americas, six million in Europe and Central Asia, and two million in the Arab States. According to statistics, 4% of children in Europe and Central Asia, 5% of children in the Americas, and 3% of youngsters in Arab nations are in the labor market.