According to the study, 10 percent of the country’s children start working when they are nine years old. By the age of 12, the number doubles to 20 percent and reaches 40 percent as they reach 13. CHF said that 80 percent of those children are involved in hazardous and arduous jobs, while over 60 percent use dangerous tools and over 30 percent said that they were injured or have fallen ill due to their jobs.
Twenty percent of Yemen’s working children were physically and emotionally abused, while 10 percent were sexually abused, the study found. And some parents try to have their children smuggled into neighboring Saudi Arabia, where they can earn 1500 Saudi Riyals (about 400 dollars) a month — a large amount compared to salaries in Yemen, according to the study. Yemeni rights group SEYAJ says hundreds of children in the provinces of Hajja and Al-Hudaydah, in northwest Yemen, were involved in drug trafficking into neighbouring countries. “There are more than 200 children used in drug trafficking into Saudi Arabia… in return for small amounts of money given to those children,” Ahmed al-Qurashi, head of SEYAJ, told AFP.
Pakistan ranks number three in the world with the highest prevalence of child and forced labour despite a significant decline in the number of child labourers recorded worldwide, it emerged at a seminar. Titled ‘Elimination of child labour in Pakistan’, the seminar was organised by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (Sparc) at the Sindh Boys Scouts Association’s headquarters.
According to The Global Slavery Index 2013, Pakistan comes third, after Mauritania and Haiti, in the prevalence of child labour while the International Labour Organisation (ILO) says that the overall number of child labourers has declined from 200 million in 2000 to 168 million in 2014. Speakers at the seminar said the government has failed to conduct a fresh child labour survey since 1996, which made it hard to correctly ascertain details of children working in different sectors around the country, particularly in Sindh.
In a report published in June, UNICEF noted that “violence and loss of income are forcing more families to send their children to work”. The report estimated that more than 575,000 Iraqi children have been put to work, double the number from 1990. “Today, Iraq is one of the most dangerous places for children to live – not exactly the country where you wish to be a child,” Maulid Warfa, a regional officer for UNICEF, told.
The effects of the conflict in Iraq on children are clear: Nearly one in five schools have closed, while more than three million children are at risk of death, sexual violence, abduction and recruitment into armed groups – an increase of more than one million over the past 18 months, according to the UN agency.
“Iraqi children are exposed to danger from a very early age – as early as seven or eight years old,” Warfa said. “They work in chemical factories or in garbage collection sites without any kind of protection. They work for long hours, and you can see them exhausted … [This] is destroying their future, and – as all they want is to play, go to school, and be loved and protected by their families – we still can’t imagine what will happen to them.”
Sami Rahimi sleeps fitfully on a bread rack above the bakery’s cold concrete floor. He rises at 5 a.m., sweeps up, washes in a pan of chilly water, then prays. Before the sun has risen, Sami is pushing a dented wheelbarrow through the dim streets, at 13 still a tiny figure among the vegetable hawkers and butchers slicing bloody flanks of sheep from carcasses hung on hooks. He gathers water from a public well and takes it back to the bakery.
By 6 a.m., the gas-fired stone kiln is glowing a fiery red, ready to bake the flat loaves known as khasa and the round loaves called kamachi. Sami sweeps a platform where hot flatbread is stacked for sale. He then sits cross-legged to begin selling loaves for 10 afghanis, about 20 cents each, to customers who thrust bills through a window that he opens and closes with a long metal hook.
Working until dark six days a week, Sami earns about $80 a month, enough to support his entire family: disabled father, mother, three brothers and five sisters. Sami has been at the bakery since he was 10, when he rode a bus from the countryside to assist his uncle, Yar Mohammed, who himself began at age 8. “I’m happy I can support my family, but I would rather go to school and be an educated person,” Sami says. He shrugs as he flips over a steaming loaf with his hook, a weary gesture that makes him seem old and careworn.