Child Labor In Yemen

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Member since October 5, 2011
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By Dr.Tammam Ali AlBarmaki

Children form the biggest group in the Yemeni society as children (0-18 year old) form about more than 50% of population, there is an increase in the population number in a rate of 3.5% and the fertility rate of 7.4% and this results in doubling the population. As a result of that, all developmental plans and programs should take in consideration all requirements and necessary needs for children. Because of the proportional relation between the increased in population and the poverty and unemployment this lead to pushing of many children to the labor shop with many risks and hardship.

The phenomenon of child labor in Yemen touches the life of more than 400 thousands belong to the age group ( 14-16 ) years with male percentage 48.6% and female percentage 51.4% but most of them are from rural areas due to the increased in the population and decrease the school enrollment rate. In the rural areas the percentage is 94.6% while it is 5.4% in urban areas.

Some of these children stopped there study and they work, some still not leaving their school and work at the same time, some of them did not study at all and females form the biggest group of them.

Child labor in not only a Yemeni phenomenon but also seen in other developing countries due to the economic retardation and poverty and also the increase in the population. We find that the family's low income relating to the number of people and this lead to pushing of the child to the labor shop. So there are many indicators that could be behind this phenomenon as:

  1. poverty: the relation between child labor and poverty is proportional as Yemen to be considered one of the least developed countries(LDCs) and among the poorest in the world we find that child labor is a chronic phenomenon, in particular between the poor, week, and humiliated families.
  2. Unemployment and inadequate salary
  3. Decrease the school enrollment rate and this has many cases, more than 50% did not join their schools or escaped because of absence of schools or the child is a girl who cannot study because of the tribal traditions and habits or parents illiteracy, some said because of their failure in study.
  4. Early marriage the child will stop his study and going for seeking about different life for him and his family and leaving the school and education.
  5. Parents illiteracy, study proved that more than 97% of labored children their parents are illiterate
  6. Revenge, the children will grow up carrying in their minds this revenge and will not engage in the study except for achieving this revenge.
  7. Chewing Qat, the child who is used to chew qat will hardy work in order to get money to buy qat.
  8. Others such as the tribal wars breaking out which lead to hindering the educational process due to interruption of the roads lead to schools, and also the child will look to those who are before him and who carry certificates from either a university or institute and not employed then he will tell him self to stop the study in the school and becomes depressed.

There are many risks facing the children during their work specially those who work in mines, plastics, fire games, matches, fishing, agriculture, and asbestos. A study in India showed that the labored children becomes smaller and liable to diseases than who do not work, children who work in hotels, restaurants, furniture's are liable to get chest and abdominal diseases like diarrhea and asthma. Among the risky jobs is exposure to organic dust or poisons of agricultural source and then become exposed to organophosphorus compounds. Those who work in mines and in continuous contact with the asbestos may have emphysema.

An important phenomenon other than child labor is street children which has been increased these days. According to the UNICEF estimation that Sana'a( the capital city of Yemen) by itself has 28789 street children in 2000 and the causes of this phenomenon simulate that for child labor, in addition to the current situation in Yemen, the hikes prices, frequent electrical shut down, and absence of cooking gas. The family cannot provide the necessary needs as money for education, money for life basic needs such as water and food even the bus rent is raising to 50 Yemeni Rials instead of 30 Rials was paying before. Some families do not own house and instead they hire with expensive level. The current situation has a negative impact on the life of the Yemeni children in all its form and there is a steady increase in the number of street children who stopped studying in their school. A positive feedback mechanism has been shown between the tense current situation in Yemen and the number of street children, we find that more and prolonged situation lead to more and more street children.

The most dangerous thing facing these street children is they become exposed to sexual harassment verbally or physically and then become depressed when they get older. Or they may join gangs committed criminal doings and having narcotics.

I would like to emphasize that we find such things: increase in the number of street children, children labor, and children armament and these things and among others are due to the unstable current situation in Yemen specially in the absence of security.

Dr.Tammam Ali AlBarmaky 6th year medical student Faculty of Medicine Dhamar University-Yemen

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