Egypt Child Labor a Somber Reality
First Published: June 13, 2008
[AFP PHOTO/MARWAN NAAMANI ]
AFP PHOTO/MARWAN NAAMANI
CAIRO: Thirteen-year-old Essam Hussein spends his days lugging exhaust pipes in a little repair workshop in central Cairo, one of hundreds of thousands of children forced into labor to secure a future. "I hate school, I like it here," says Essam who dreams of owning his own repair shop with his brothers one day. "I've been working here since last year," he says, showing the mechanics' garage where he has been working for about a year. In a nearby workshop, Mohammed Hassan, 15, says he works only during the summer holidays. "At least if school doesn't work out, I'll have a job," says the teenager who makes around LE 40 per week. Whether sweating under the engine of a broken down car, roaming the streets for a few pennies in exchange for flowers or picking cotton in the Nile Delta, one in 10 Egyptian children are forced into work. On every street corner, out in the open fields or in gritty workshops, children, some as young as 10, are required to put in a day's work. The UN children's agency UNICEF estimates that 2.7 million children between the ages of six and 14 in Egypt work. According to official statistics, a third of Egypt's 80 million population is below the age of 15. NGOs say that among those, 10 percent are forced to work, often in difficult conditions. But the government, which has pledged to combat child labor, says just three percent of minors are working and only seasonally. In the cotton industry — Egypt is the world's 10th biggest producer — about one million children are sent to take part in the arduous harvest that starts in May each year, working for some 11 hours a day, UNICEF says. According to New York-based Human Rights Watch, the children's working hours far exceed the maximum six hours per day for which they may be employed under the law. A majority of the children are between the ages of seven and 12. In a...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document