Turkey recognised the use of child labour in seasonal agriculture as one of the three worst forms of child labour and made a commitment to the International Labor Organisation (ILO) to end it by 2015—yet, according to a 2018 report, there may still be as many as 2mn children forced to work in the country, a news feature carried by the Thomson Reuters Foundation noted on March 14.
The article added: “Sadly, tackling the problem in Turkey may now be more challenging than ever. While global food prices are decreasing, Turkey is struggling with skyrocketing food prices. Between January 2017 and January 2018, food prices in Turkey increased 31 percent. In these circumstances, Turkish policymakers are unlikely to feel compelled to improve working conditions or earnings of agricultural workers, a move which could increase the cost of food further.
“Families do not earn enough to break the cycle of poverty, even though some work for over 11 hours-a-day, 7 days a week. The only way to alleviate debt is to fully utilize the labor potential of the entire family, and to work for longer periods during the year. This means that the children have to work more in the field and are unable to go to school, deepening their disadvantages in the future.”
The article’s author, Recep Argunaga, tells how during a recent work trip in Alapli, a small town on the Black Sea coast in northern Turkey, he met 12-year old Zeynep, whom he described as “just one among many working children full of hope and potential”.
Argunaga added: “She became a regular in the psycho-social support activities we [Support to Life NGO] conducted in Alapli for children like her that are removed from school due the long harvest cycle.
“When I asked her what she would like to do when she grew up, she said: ‘My family’s job is fixed. I will work in the field like my family, and collect [scrap] papers when back home.
“Two weeks into our work in Alapli, Zeynep began saying ‘I want to become a nurse’, which later changed to: “I will become a nurse.’”
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