On the occasion of 12 June Day of Combating Child Labor, we talked to Pınar Uyan Semerci and Gözde Durmuş from İstanbul Bilgi University about the Child Labor Survey conducted by Turkish Statistical Institute 7 years later.
According to TurkStat data, the number of child workers in the 5-17 age group in Turkey today, 720 thousand ... However, the researchers say that the results of the Child Labor Survey, which took place after seven years, did not reveal the overall picture.
Pınar Uyan Semerci from Istanbul Bilgi University Migration Studies Application and Research Center reminded that children working in seasonal agriculture were out of scope in terms of the timing of the study and stated that the domestic labor of refugee children, especially Syrian children, was not included in the research.
She also stated that the conditions under which children above 15 years of age work must be dealt with, therefore, contract and insurance information is needed. Uyan Semerci emphasized that the fact that the Syrian children are out of scope causes the dimensions of the problem not to be fully reflected and underlined that the fact that the Syrian child worker reality revealed by the field studies is a subject that should be tackled, and she stated that it should be addressed first in the agenda.
Emphasizing that seasonal agricultural work is one of the worst forms of child labor, Uyan Semerci pointed out that the work done between October and December did not catch the children working in seasonal agriculture in terms of timing and pointed out that the survey study did not reflect the table in seasonal agriculture. Uyan Semerci said that in many households, children are given more severe domestic responsibilities than their age and children do household chores such as household shopping, cleaning, ironing, and undertake jobs such as child, patient, or elderly care.
Uyan Semerci underlined that this household burden on children should be uncovered and that the effects of child labor in this field, especially for the girls, need to be addressed in detail. "We must be aware that numbers are not just numbers"
Gözde Durmuş from the Istanbul Bilgi University Children's Studies Unit stated that based on the information in the published bulletin of the TURKSTAT research, questions such as insurance and health information about working children were excluded and she added that collecting this information of children aged 15-17 is critical to understanding compliance of the conditions of children working above 15 years with laws and regulations. Durmuş also stated that their research findings reveal that up to 98 percent of children over the age of 15 do not work under the conditions they should be.
Uyan Semerci and Durmuş said that there is a percentage improvement in terms of TurkStat's 2019 data, but it is not known exactly what this improvement corresponds to due to the shortcomings in the survey. Uyan Semerci said, “We should know that the number of 720 thousand child workers is not just a figure, and we all have to think about what the work causes in each child's life and what it means, and we must be aware of our responsibility.”
Uyan Semerci said “We need to constantly think about the issue of child labor not only on June 12, and we need to target zero child workers.” and called for social awareness.
Reminding that the problem of child labor should be dealt with in detail at every level, in every business line and the problem of child labor should be prioritized and holistic policies are needed in the struggle, Uyan Semerci said, “We also need to discuss what is at the root of child labor. At this point, we need to think about what is necessary for supporting families and inclusive education.”
Both Durmuş and Uyan Semerci reminded that detailed information about the methodology of the research should be shared, and that sharing of microdata is important in developing effective policies to solve the current situation, and that we should not forget that each number in the data is the life of a child.