Elimination of Child Labour: Differences Between Girl & Boy Child Labour

By Assoc. Prof. A. Gurhan Fisek

This report was presented at the III. National Demography Conference (December 2-5, 1997-Ankara)

The trouble of people is usually their own; Just like the child workers. It should not be in that way; So for the child workers.

Child labour is the reflection of “poverty” and “hope” both at the same time. On the one hand, it indicates hopelessness, on the other, efforts to find a way out.

Rather than extending this list, it is better to evaluate all these under one heading. Child labour is one of the most significant indicator of the inadequacies of social security systems. Because, both these children and their families regard their assurance inadequate concerning both today and tomorrow; and consequently, they seek an “individual release” by themselves.

Child labour is a mortgage put over the future of a nation through becoming widespread of the individual release efforts and through its impact over the national economy-politics.

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Children’s getting into the working life at an early age is incongruous withhuman rights. Why?

  • Children should enjoy their childhood.
  • Their starting to work with the adults leads to their undertaking an adult role at an early age. This hinders tiny naughtiness of children, their pampering, playing games, and accompanying with their friends.
  • Extending working hours weary these children; and hamper to be involved in various activities that would allow their self-development.
  • Children’s getting into the working life at an early age causes them to stop completing their formal education; hence, causes them to acquire a “skill”, rather than to take a “vocational training”.
  • Apart from heavy and hazardous works, children, in working life, may be exposed to ill-treatments or harassment of the adults.
  • Social mechanisms assume that children, until they are old enough to insist on their rights and resist against injustices, are to be protected by their families. However, families, when their children get into the working life, are either indifferent or not equipped with the necessary opportunities to sustain such a control. For example, they have no idea about the chemical substances that jeopardise children’s health at workplaces or about the precautions taken against these substances.
  • Child employing workplaces, in general, are inferior in quality when compared with the working conditions of workplaces not employing any child worker. This increases the risk of occupational accidents and diseases.

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Social necessities pave a way for children’s starting to work at an early age. In order to hold this fact back, these social necessities should be come to a halt. What are these social necessities then?

  • In our country, job placement and vocational training facilities are procured not at the formal education institutions, but at workplaces providing apprenticeship or on-the-job training opportunities. Regarding the working motives of children, the concern for learning an occupation is around 30 %.
  • In the event children stop attending schools due to various reasons (such as disliking studying, families’ not being able to afford education expenses, failure in school life, and etc.), they are left unsupervised. These unsupervised children, in that case, may incline towards street life, street gangs, and etc.; and this makes families get anxious about their children. Under these circumstances, families, as the most convenient solution, prefer their children to be inclined towards working life. Besides, they are in need of their children’s financial contributions. This necessity is required for maintaining or sustaining a certain living standard. This living is of the child as well.
  • Working and handing most of what s/he earns (although diminishes by degrees) to parents give a child an opportunity to spend money as s/he wishes.
  • These children, who are not supplied with adequate and balanced nourishment at homes, find a way to be nourished adequately by means of utilising from collective nourishment opportunities at workplaces or of spending the money they earn.
  • They start to build up their future (even at an early age) through their observations, intuitions and the contacts they establish.

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In the event children’s rights and necessities contradict with each other, which arbiter they shall apply to?

Thisarbiter is the child himself/herself. As for our researches, it isderived that children “voluntarily” get into the workinglife (Table 1,2,3).1

Accordingly, elimination of the necessities that push children to get into the working life (or becoming widespread of “involuntarily” working children) is the precondition for the elimination of child labour.

InTurkey, it has been frequently encountered with children below theage of 15 for years on end. According to the findings of the StateStatistics Institute, the number of working children between 6-15 years old is 1.008.019.2 Of these, there are 597.646 (59,3 %) males, and 410.373 (40,7 %)females.

Once again, the same source states that the majority of female child workers not attending to schools is from the agricultural sector (83,8 %). The same is true for male child workers; but in that case, the rate drops to 55,7 %.

Carriedover people who worked in the agricultural sector during childhood,one of our studies demonstrates that the employment age differentiates in accordance with the type of the product, and that male child workers, approximately at the age of 14, leave their homelands as seasonal workers.3 On the other side, male workers, starting to work approximately atthe age of 12,6, have a rural origin in general.4 It is also explicated that male children are inclined to urban livingdue to the monotony of rural living and the limited-inadequate futureexpectations. For female children, on the other hand, there is nosuch opportunity to be talked of. They only experience urbanconditions as an extension of their fathers or husbands; otherwise,they still engage in agricultural works.

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Primary Indicators of Gender Discrimination in Working Life:

The inequalities between men and women just start at a mother’s womb. The traditional roles imputed to gender roles have an impact over the expectations for an innate “authority”. Furthermore, this expectations persist through the family circle organisations directing children and their inclinations.

The traditional role attributed to girls is a dependent and secondary role, rather than related with the formation of an independent personality. This situation also indicates itself at the “formal education” and “vocational training” issues.

Not being able to complete their education, these girls tend to be worked in domestic works or family enterprises dominantly. These works are the ones they plan to do in the future after they get married.

Apart from the conception of work as a mean of “socialisation”, this inclination, on the contrary, brings about the non-socialisation (or social isolation) of individuals.

Hampering girls to be conscious of their womanhood identity and individuality and to acquire a self-confidence, these inclinations are the reflection of traditional codes of behaviour operating through “extended family” idea.

While male children are sent to acquire a skill (an occupation) at workplaces as a full-time employee, female children are detained from learning a desired profession and establishing in-group relations. Getting into the working life at an early age, male children advantage mostly from the relations they establish with business circles. This helps them to find a job easily and chose an employer-master worker freely, compared with the ones coming from the formal education institutions. All these relations are established in a way that continues lifelong.

Contrarily, it is not possible for female children, who succeed in getting into the working life, to talk about such lifelong or in-group relations. Before all else, the system of traditional codes of behaviour do persist at workplaces as well; and these female children are tried to be kept socially isolated through strict discipline mechanisms and conveyance services.

Aschildren start to work in accordance with the decision of theirparents, their opinions are not generally asked (85 % for girls; 67 %for boys). On that ground, there are significant statistical differences between female and male child workers (chi- square = 6,16; p = 0,0131). It has been found out that children, generally, regard the jobs chosen for them and their families’ tendencies to get them started to that job as “suited to their desires”, and that does not show any variation between males and females (Table-1). The rate of female children who are not asked about their inclinations is 18 %.

TABLE-1

GENDER DISTRIBUTION OF CHILD WORKERS (14-16 YEARS OLD)

ACCORDING TO THE FAVOURABILITY OF THE JOBS

CONCERNING THE DESIRES OF CHILDREN

Favourability

of the jobs

Female

Male

Total

Favourable

84 (82 %)

71 (85 %)

155 (83 %)

Unfavourable

19 (18 %)

13 (15 %)

32 (17 %)

Total

103

84

187

(chi-square= 0,12; p = 0,73 unimportant)

However, as these children are elaborated with respect to their origins in addition to the job replacement patterns, one can acquire significant statistical results (Table-2). Urban origin children, however much they are not asked about their opinions, are replaced to favourable jobs in general. However, the same fact cannot be applicable for the rural origin children at the same degree.

TABLE-2

DISTRIBUTION OF THE ORIGINS OF CHILDREN

ACCORDING TO THE FAVOURABILITY OF THE JOBS

CONCERNING THE DESIRES OF CHILDREN

Favourability

of the jobs

Rural Origin

Urban Origin

Total

Favourable

66 (75 %)

72 (89 %)

138

Unfavourable

22 (25 %)

9 (11 %)

31

Total

88

81

169

(chi-square= 4,54; p = 0,0330 important)

Another indicator, pointing whether children are compatible with the “job” chosen or proving whether they are replaced in a job according to their wills, is their emotional responses when they are said “we’ve found you a job”. As shown in Table-3, 85 % of the children states that they felt “delighted” and “glad” when they were said so. On the other hand, 21 % of the female children and 8 % of the male children felt “unhappy” and “panic”. This difference is statistically significant.

TABLE-3

GENDER DISTRIBUTION OF CHILD WORKERS

ACCORDING TO THEIR EMOTIONAL RESPONSES

TO THE FIRST JOB PLACEMENT

Emotional Responses

Female

Male

Total

Delight; gladness

71 (79 %)

77 (92 %)

148 (85 %)

Unhappiness; panic

19 (21 %)

7 (8 %)

26 (12 %)

Total

90

84

174

(chi-square= 4,62; p = 0,0316 important)

Elaboration of the motives influencing the inclinations of children to work, even if they are at the age of enjoying their childhood and playing games, is one of the key facts that would assist us to withdraw children from working life. In order to refer this, the reasons of both children and their families have been investigated in this regard.

TABLE-4

APPROACHES OF FAMILIES

REGARDING THE CAUSES OF CHILD WORKING

Causes of child working

Female

Male

Total

Contributing to family budget

48 (54 %)

15 (18 %)

63

Learning a profession

41 (46 %)

67 (82 %)

108

Total

89

82

171

(chi-square= 43,19; p = 0,000001 very important)

*(The rate of importance of these two foremost causes among all thecauses referring child working: 94 %)

Insofaras the impressions of child workers are concerned, children statethat parents want them to work, because “they necessitate theirfinancial contribution” or they want them “to learn aprofession”. The rate of these two causes is 94 % of the all causes. Furthermore, these two basic causes are predominantly influenced by gender variable. As Table-4 demonstrates, “economic contribution” of the female workers is a determinant factor for females to be involved in working life. On the contrary, for male child workers, it is the worry for learning an occupation that has a superior impact on job placement. By this, male child workers are expected to learn an occupation to be performed lifelong. Apart from formal education facilities, they should learn such an occupation that would guarantee to find a job. Because, getting acquainted with the business circle and the contacts established would allow child workers to find new and more “favourable” jobs. This situation also clarifies the fact that male employees more frequently change their jobs (55 %). On the other hand, female workers do not change their jobs with 77 % frequency. This difference bears a significant meaning statistically (chi-square = 11,87; p=0,00057).

Female workers do not frequently change their workplaces having been chosen with a great care. Considering the importance of economic reasons that cause young girls to work, its is pretty through-provoking that they don’t incline towards better payment providing jobs in their future occupational lives. Here, the dominant theme appears as the girls’ being kept under protection due to various reasons like “chastity”. And for this reason, these girls are worked nearby an employer well-known by their parents. Nevertheless, as people insist on maintaining these so-called reliable relationships despite ill-treatments and negative working conditions, it increases the losses. The same insistence is not applicable for male child workers.

As Table-5 presents, above mentioned findings seem compatible with the children’s demands as well. However, families’ opinions on the causes of male and female child working are the strong indicator of gender discrimination reality.

TABLO-5

DISTRIBUTON OF WORKING CAUSES ACCORDING TO GENDER DIFFERENCES

Working causes

Female

Male

Total

Contributing to family budget

48 (54 %)

15 (18 %)

63 (37 %)

Learning a profession

41 (46 %)

67 (82 %)

108 (63 %)

Total

89

82

171

(chi-square= 21,72; p = 0,000028 very important)

*(The rate of importance of these two foremost causes among all thecauses referring child working: 80 %)

Itis not futile that child workers develop various defence mechanismsin order to endure the difficulties of working life and to remainstanding in the world of adults. One of these defence mechanisms is their beginning to smoke at an early age. As the first step of various addictions, the average age for starting smoking gets younger; and according to a study, 39 % of working children states that their habit begins at the age of 15. 5

Thesechildren struggle for guaranteeing their future. This situation canbe considered in relation with their future expectations as well(Table-6). One of the most dominantly observed future expectations of child workers is to set up themselves up in business in the future. Yet, this hope shows variations between male and female child workers. Although 88 % of male child workers want to set up themselves up in the future, this rate is only 23 % for female child workers.

TABLE-6

GENDER DISTRIBUTION OF CHILD WORKERS

ACCORDING TO THEIR FUTURE EXPECTATIONS,

PARTICULARLY ABOUT SETTING UP THEMSELVES UP IN BUSINESS

Future expectations

Female

Male

Total

“I will set up myself up”.

20 (23 %)

98 (88 %)

118

Others

66 (77 %)

14 (12 %)

80

Total

86

112

198

(chi-square= 80,74; p = 0,00001 very important)

Yet, another fact that should be touched upon with great care comes on the scene when this distribution is made according to the age differences. Among 9 years old children, the rate of desire to set up a business of their own is only 9 %; but this rate starts to increase among children at the age of 15-16 (Table-7). This increase is statistically meaningful as well.

TABLE-7

DISTRIBUTON OF FEMALE CHILD WORKERS REGARDING THEIR EXPECTATIONS TO SET UP THEMSELVES UP IN A BUSINESS

ACCORDINGTO AGE DIFFERENCES

The expectation for setting up a business of their own

14 years old

15-16 years old

Total

Having an expectation

4 (9 %)

16 (39 %)

20 (23 %)

Not having an expectation

41 (91 %)

25 (61 %)

66 (77 %)

Total

45

41

86

*(The rate of reason is 24 % of all the reasons indicating the priorities about future expectations)

*(Fisher’s p = 0,000969 very important)

For the same age group, another striking future expectation is the increasing desire of female child workers to become a “housewife”. Therefore, this statistically significant difference should be especially touched upon in addition to female child workers’ tendency to quit their jobs after getting married. They are socially indoctrinated with the idea that they “work for their trousseau” and that they should be the “lady of the house” after getting married. Working life, on the other hand, operates in a way that it makes people, who are incompatible with this idea, in compliance with it.

As for “young” girl workers, the conditions that turn work into a torment and that dissuade them from working should be investigated thoroughly. Concerning these, the first one is about the preferences in working life; that is strict disciplinary tendencies, rather than enriching psychological approaches. Another one is the tendency detaining young people from working life as they grow old, which also increases through the desire of female workers to get married. Another significant factor is sexual harassment cases against female workers, in addition to heavy and unhealthy working conditions. Female youngsters tend to conceal such cases with various worries, particularly about the “possibly of being fired” and of “being withdrawn by their parents” from working life. However, such a concealment intensifies the degree of torments and makes these female youngsters think that they wound not work lifelong. Another factor that causes female youngsters to avoid working is related with the distribution of salaries they get. Required to hand over all the salary she gets, a female worker becomes aware of the fact: “today, for her father; tomorrow, for her husband”. Therefore, she feels that she would never experience her “economic independence” that she expect from this onerous working life.

TABLE-8

AGE DISTRIBUTION OF FEMALE WORKERS

ACCORDING TO THEIR EXPECTATIONS

REGARDING THE DESIRE TO BECOME A HOUSEWIFE

AFTER GETTING MARRIED

Expectation regarding their desire become a housewife

14 years old

15-16 years old

Total

Having and expectation

11 (24 %)

20 (49 %)

31 (36 %)

Not having an expectation

34 (76 %)

21 (51 %)

55 (64 %)

Total

45

41

86

(chi-square = 4,51; p = 0,0038 important)

(therate of this reason is 36 % of all the reasons indicating the priorities about future expectations)

Among these factors, strict disciplinary tendencies and ill-treatments have a significant place. A girl, while trying to escape from being shut in home, is shut in a workplace this time. Once again, it is a significant constraining factor that young female workers are exposed to sexual harassment (and not being able to utter this) at workplaces.

Another factor destroying children’s motivations to work is their being required to allot all the money they earn. Although they are able to have a “relative” right on this issue as time passes, the same gender differences are also applicable for the same problem. The rate of young female workers who hand over all they earn to their families is 51 %; and it is 30 % for their male counterparts. On the contrary, the rate of young workers who hand over nothing or a limited amount as necessitates is 18 % for females and 21 % for males. This difference is not that significant statistically.

TABLE-9

GENDER DISTRIBUTION OF CHILD WORKERS

ACCORDING TO THE ALLOTMENT OF WAGES THEY EARN

TO THEIR PARENTS

The rate of allotment

Female

Male

Total

Whole

45 (51 %)

24 (30 %)

69 (41 %)

Others

43 (49 %)

57 (70 %)

100 (59 %)

Total

88

81

169

(chi-square= 7,21 p = 0,00725 important)

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Intervention strategies for the elimination of child labour:

The picture under consideration allows us to implement three different strategies with respect to the intervention of society to the child labour problem. These are:

Short-term strategies:

Appropriate conditions should be brought about in order to urgently withdraw “involuntarily” working children from working life;

Concerning voluntarily working children, in order to preserve their physical, psychological and social well-being, appropriate organisations should be urgently reached to these children, and working environments should be meliorated.

Long-term strategies:

New economic and social policies should be developed in order to hold back the tendencies that consider early job placement as a way of release.

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The things to be done in the short-run in order to protect child workers in working life

The development of the Combat with Poverty program would create a convenient environment for social security systems to be provided “for all and in a sufficient degree”; esteem for human beings to be raised; and child rights to be put into practice (the rights declared since 1924 through international conventions). Combating for these to be achieved is the duty of all.

But still, the problems of children, who work because of “desperation”, should not be awaited any longer. Because, today’s child workers will become adults with a worn-out bodily structure and in a gruelling living, until favourable results are get from these long-term programs.

For this reason, expected to bring about urgent results, short-term intervention programs should be put into practice as well. For implementing these programs and carrying out related model studies, social organisations (non-governmental organisations) should come to the foreground with an increasing responsibility.

Fisek Institute, since the time of its establishment in 1982, has been in close co-operation with the small-scale enterprises employing child workers; accordingly, it has developed “community medicine approach” with a self-sustaining “model study” that is based on mutual trust.

Regarding the effectuation of social precautions, Fisek Model considers occupational health and safety precautions as having an utmost importance. For this process to be accomplished, it is aimed that present service units should be turned into social politics units.

ThroughFisek Model, various “firsts” have come along in Turkey;yet it bears the same “firsts” and “originalities”at the world scale as well. 6 The institute has been the first in achieving the co-ordination ofhealth services provided for small-scale enterprises around a samefocus, in addition to its performing this provision through mobileclinics (mobile unit). Nowadays, this model has been executed inAnkara, Istanbul and Denizli; and its sustainability has beenachieved through the contribution of small-scale employers.

The differences of Fisek Model from its counterparts around the world can be classified as follows:

  • An accent on children and youngsters;
  • An accent on womanhood identity;
  • An accent on the inseparable nature of occupational health and occupational safety;
  • An accent on social dimension;
  • Its sustaining continuous efforts and social participation
  • Its being based on the contributions of employers in order to overcome the resource problem;
  • Becoming widespread of the model and its being organised around a same focus.

As the model proceeded forward, wide-spreading the model and organising it around a same focus have been necessitated; and these brought about the formation of Fisek Institute-Science and Action Foundation for Child Labour. Such a foundational model about child workers helps public participation to be increased; and hence, broadens our horizon as for implementational efforts.

One of these horizons is the bridge established between the women movement and the studies carried out in Denizli for girl child workers.

The gender of a child worker is a determinant factor both for the specification of the precedential strategies and for their implementation. Because, it appears both as the extension of traditional roles and as having a potential influence over the future of these children.

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Concerning urgent intervention programs about child workers, what are the different approaches specifically concentrating on girl child workers?

Forthe first years of the 19th century, during which thefirst precautions on social policies came to the foreground, childworkers were given a special emphasis. Just successively, protection of working women was put on the agenda. Until so far, there have been innumerable conventions and declarations issued for child workers and working women.

Although it is discussible whether such protection exists for women, it is a non-debatable fact that women’s working is an indicator of civilisation and socialisation. Women’s working, their being preferred in working life and building a career give rise to three successful results:

  • Increase in the social status of women;
  • Detention of the early marriage age; or decrease in the number of children (in order not to stay away from working life)
  • In addition to these two factors, abandonment of the procurement of child labour in parallel to the abolishment of the necessity felt for it.

It is not only “vocational training” facilities that allow women to remain standing in the working life. Various educational facilities should also be provided particularly about “acquaintanceship with one’s own body”, “raising awareness on womanhood identity”, “solidarity among women”, “legal arrangements”, “reproductive health”, and etc. It is the early ages during which such facilities are provided in the best way.

Contrary to the traditional expectations, young girls tend to break the circle they are in, detain their marriages, and acquire a profession. Yet, they rarely find an opportunity to accomplish these; hence then, they withdraw themselves into home after getting married.

However, such withdrawal is not only due to the fact that they have not acquired a profession as they’ve pleased; but also due to unawareness and disorganisation. Concerning the project that we have carried out in Denizli, we endeavour that young female workers would meet with different occupational opportunities in accordance with their own desires; hence, we endeavour to support their enterprises accordingly.

Aiming at the “improvement of their enterprises”, such programs on girl children and young girls should certainly include and treat the dimension of “women’s human rights”. Additionally, this program should also persuade them to continue on their careers even after getting married.

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The debt of loyalty

Child workers are deprived of the opportunity to enjoy their childhood, while their coevals are able to attend schools and play games in the parks through the taxes paid by these child workers. Society should eliminate this injustice; hence, society should pay its debt of loyalty back to these children again.

For this to be achieved, we propose you the Fisek Model.

1 The data used in this report have been derived from the studies carried out by Fisek Institute in Denizli and in 1996 (They have been still carried out). Concerning this issue, children attending to the Apprenticeship Education Centres have been chosen as the universe, all of which have been interviewed and undergone a health examination. An then, girl and boy apprentices (that are at the same age group and from the same urban or rural origin with the girls) have been selected from the survey forms systematic sampling.

2 DIE: “Cocuk Isgucu 1994″ – T.C. Basbakanlik Devlet Istatistik Enstitüsü Yayini , Public. No. 1997.

3 Fisek A.G.: Special Risk Factors on Children at Work – a research supported by (Unpublished Report) – 1985.

4 Fisek A.G.: “Medico-social Problems of Child Workers” – a research supported by MEAWARDS (Its findings have been published in various periodicals in an article format; i.e.: “Working Life and Children”, II. Labour Health Congress Book (April 4-7, 1988) , Turkish Medical Association Publications, 1991.

5 Baytemur M., Kocak A., Fisek A.G.: “A Research on the Factors Effecting the Smoking of Children between 13-15 years of Age” Working Environment Periodical, May-June 1994, No:14 p.33.

6 Fisek A.G.: “Occupational Health and Safety Unit at Small-scale Industrial Regions: Fisek Model”, Working Environment Periodical, September-October 1995, No. 22, p.7.