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End to child labour remains elusive despite crackdown

By Rayya Al Muheisen - Sep 26,2022 - Last updated at Sep 26,2022

Child labour remains an unsolved issue despite attempts by authorities to address the issue, as indicated by the number of cases (File photo)

AMMAN — Child labour remains an unsolved issue despite attempts by authorities to address the issue, as indicated by the number of cases.

Jameel Qadi, Ministry of Labour’s spokesperson, told The Jordan Times that a total of 172 cases of child labour were handled during the first six months of 2022. 

Financial motives remain the reason that children are forced into the labour market, say experts.

Mustafa, 15, was spotted by The Jordan Times working in a drive-through coffee shop in the capital. After the death of his father three years ago, Mustafa is responsible for his four younger siblings.

Mustafa’s youngest brother, who is six years old, is visually impaired. Combined with his mother’s unemployment, his family suffers financial hardship offset only by his father’s pension of JD280, he said. 

“Men go out and work; staying home is for women. Since I'm the eldest, I have to provide for my younger siblings,” Mustafa told The Jordan Times. 

Mustafa stated that he goes to school, and works after school hours. “I get paid JD5 a day plus whatever tips I get from customers,” said Mustafa. 

“I also get a free pack of cigarettes and soft drinks during my working hours,” Mustafa added. 

Mustafa stated that he doesn’t face any harsh working conditions. “The cafeteria owner treats me very well; he sometimes brings me food,” said Mustafa. 

Qadi, the Labour Ministry’s spokesperson told The Jordan Times the average age of victims of child labour is 14.

Most child labourers work in manufacturing, retail, agriculture, auto-repair and the service sector, according to the official .

“Bringing up child workers in such hazardous environments makes them more prone to be involved in criminal activities when they grow up,” Ahmad Awad, head of Jordan Labour Watch, told The Jordan Times.

Farouq Hadid, secretary general of the Ministry of Labour, said on the occasion of the World Day Against Child Labour that the law forbids the employment of children under the age of 16.

It also forbids the employment of children in dangerous work environments before the age of 18, provided that their working hours do not exceed six hours a day, and that they do not work at night, on official holidays, or the weekend, he said.

Awad added that child labour is the result of many complex factors, including poverty, social norms, lack of decent work opportunities for adults and adolescents among others.

“Working children are subjected to numerous violations and exploitation in their workplace… receiving low salaries, long working hours, and jobs that do not match their physical capabilities,” he said.

Qadi also refutes claims that child labour cases in Jordan reached 100,000. He stressed that this figure is “not based on any national survey and rather, is a prediction”.

A total of 59 warnings were given to business owners employing child labourers during the first six months of this year, Qadi added.

Additionally, 49 tickets were issued to business owners employing child labourers during the same period.

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