264 child workers die in work places, number of child labor increases 100,000 in 4 years in Turkey

Unidentified seasonal child workers work in very difficult conditions in Harran plain near Syria border of Turkey. They can not go to school to work in the cotton fields.

Turkey is celebrating today, April 23, as the National Sovereignty and Children’s Day across the country. However, the recent figures on the state of children have showed that there is nothing to celebrate for children in Turkey.

According to a recent report titled as ‘Being a child worker in Turkey’, which was released by the Confederation of Progressive Labor Unions (DİSK) highlighted the severity of life conditions for millions of children in Turkey. The report stated that only in four years child labor has increased more than 100 thousand in Turkey. Also another report released by the Assembly of Labor Health and Labor Safety (İSİGM), in last four years 264 child workers died in work accidents in Turkey.

According to a report by Birgün daily, the background information shared in DİSK’s report has showed that current data is available only on child labor of children aged 15-17. Data on children under 15 who work in seasonal agricultural job fields is lacking. Furthermore, children who are employed for long hours in so-called training programs in hospitality sectors as interns, as well as those who work as apprentices, are not considered as child workers in official data. Nevertheless, recorded number of working children increased from 601 thousand (2012) to 709 thousand (2016) in a matter of couple of years.

On the other hand, even a higher increase was seen in the number of children employed as apprentices. According to official data of Turkey’s Social Security Institution (SGK), which was reflected and analyzed in DİSK’s report, while over 400 thousand children, between ages of 15-17, were working as apprentice in the year of 2015, there were over 1 million children as apprentices as of the end of 2016. As emphasized in the report, this number excludes both children employed out of the record and children under 15 who are employed in various fields.

Also shared in the report is the data of Turkish Statistical Institution with regards to unregistered child workers, which is estimated to be 80 percent of all child workers. With a ratio of 25.3 percent, Turkey also has the highest rank, among European countries, with number of children in poverty.

Occupational fatality records that were officially recorded in 2012 indicated that 32 children had died at work. As of 2016, on the other hand, 56 children lost their lives while working.  According to data compiled by the Assembly of Labor Health and Labor Safety (İSİGM), in last four years in Turkey in total 264 child workers died in work accidents in work places.

Moreover, according to the recent figures given by “Juvenile Prisons Should Be Closed Initiative” 2,200 children are imprisoned in Turkey’s jails.

April 23, 2017

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