Last Updated: Monday, 22 December 2014, 21:54 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Iraq

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 27 August 2008
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Iraq, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa4773c.html [accessed 23 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor1768
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2006:12.4
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2006:15.1
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2006:9.6
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:15
Compulsory education age:11
Free public education:Yes
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:99
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:89
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2006:69.6
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 20004:81
ILO-IPEC participating country:No

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Due to sectarian violence in Iraq, many children leave school to earn money, either by selling items on the streets or by begging. In some cases, the money they earn is the sole source of family income.1769 In urban areas, children work in hazardous conditions in automobile shops and on construction sites.1770 In rural areas, children perform seasonal manual labor.1771

There are reports of children participating in both the sex industry and the drug trade.1772 Reports from destination countries indicate that girls are trafficked to Jordan, Syria, and the Persian Gulf States.1773 Young boys have been targeted by gangs for sexual exploitation. Girls may be targeted by staff at private orphanages to be sold into prostitution or trafficked out of Iraq for sexual exploitation.1774 There are reports of Iraqi insurgents recruiting children as fighters, as well as using children as suicide bombers.1775

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for employment is 15 years.1776 The employment of anyone under 18 years in work detrimental to the worker's health, safety, or morals is prohibited.1777 Additional legal requirements regarding the employment of children under 18 include a maximum 7-hour workday, a pre-employment medical examination, a daily rest period of 1 hour after 4 hours of work, and a 30-day paid vacation per year. Employers must maintain a register of names of employees under 18 years, post a copy of the labor provisions protecting children, and keep medical fitness certificates of minors on file.1778 However, youth 15 years or older who are employed in family enterprises are excluded from most of these provisions.1779

The law prohibits the worst forms of child labor, defined as slavery, and similar practices including forced labor, child trafficking, and compulsory recruitment of minors for use in armed conflict; child prostitution; illicit activities such as drug trafficking; and work likely to harm the health, safety, or morals of children. Promoting, assisting, or benefiting from the aforementioned worst forms of child labor is prohibited.1780 Violations of Labor Code provisions pertaining to work performed by children, including the worst forms of child labor, may be penalized by imprisonment for 10 days to 3 months or fines.1781 The minimum age of voluntary military service is 18 years.1782

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA) is responsible for overseeing labor inspections.1783 According to USDOS, MOLSA's Child Labor Unit is unable to enforce child labor laws and remove children from exploitive labor situations because of a lack of inspectors and resources.1784 The Ministry of Interior is responsible for trafficking issues; however, according to USDOS, trafficking is not considered a high priority given the security situation, and is not investigated.1785

Current Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Since 2005, the Government has been implementing a package of benefits and services for families, contingent upon school attendance, to reduce poverty and to assist former and current street children.1786 In 2007, MOLSA operated 18 orphanages in Baghdad and the surrounding areas to shelter vulnerable children to help prevent them from becoming victims of trafficking or other worst forms of child labor.1787 Kurdish authorities support several small-scale projects to eliminate child labor in the Kurdish Regional Government area.1788


1768 For statistical data not cited here, see the Data Sources and Definitions section. For data on ratifications and ILO-IPEC membership, see the Executive Summary. For minimum age for admission to work, age to which education is compulsory, and free public education, see Coalition Provisional Authority, Coalition Provisional Authority Order 89; available from http://www.iraqcoalition.org/regulations/20040530_CPAORD89_Amendments_to_the_Labor_Code-Law_No.pdf. See also UNESCO, Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2008, Table 5: Participation in primary education, 2007; available from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001547/154743e.pdf. See also U.S. Department of State, "Iraq," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2007, Washington, DC, March 11, 2008, section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100596.htm.

1769 U.S. Embassy – Baghdad, reporting, December 10, 2007.

1770 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Iraq," section 6d. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Iraq: Child Labour on the Rise as Poverty Increases", IRINnews.org, [online], June 12, 2007; available from http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=72683.

1771 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Iraq," section 6d.

1772 Coalition Provisional Authority, Monthly Report, Social Welfare, South Iraq, Coalition Provisional Authority, Basra, May 2004. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "IRAQ: Children Lured into Drugs and Prostitution ", IRINnews.org, [online], February 12, 2007; available from http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=70094.

1773 U.S. Embassy – Baghdad, reporting, March 7, 2007. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Iraq," section 5.

1774 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Iraq," section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – Baghdad, reporting, December 10, 2007.

1775 Sudarsan Raghavan, "Iraq's Youthful Militiamen Build Power Through Fear: School Girls Told to Wear Scarves, Under Threat of Death," The Washington Post (Washington), December 13, 2007. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Iraq: Insurgents using children to fight US-led forces", IRINews.org, [online], November 2, 2006; available from http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=61917. See also Agence France-Presse, "US claims Qaeda using children as Iraq suicide bombers", AFP.com, January 27, 2008; available from http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5j7bAPfPt_86sbBYKrAVuuhIMhsvg. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Iraq," section 6d.

1776 Coalition Provisional Authority, Order 89, article 90.2 and 91.1. See also Government of Iraq, Iraq Labor Code (Act No. 71 of 1987), (July 27, 1987); available from http://www.br-iraq.com/PDF/LABORLAW/ENGLISH/6604IRAQLaborLawOriginal1987CodeEnglish.pdf.

1777 Coalition Provisional Authority, Order 89, articles 91.1 and 91.2.

1778 Ibid., articles 92-94.

1779 Ibid., article 96.

1780 Ibid., articles 91.3, 91.4. See also ECPAT International CSEC Database, Iraq accessed October 18, 2006; available from http://www.ecpat.net. See also Government of Iraq, Constitution of Iraq, (October 15, 2005), article 37; available from http://www.iraqigovernment.org.

1781 Coalition Provisional Authority, Order 89, article 97.

1782 U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook: Iraq, [online] January 24, 2008 [cited January 28, 2008]; available from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/iz.html.

1783 Government of Iraq, Labor Code, Act No. 71, article 116.

1784 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Iraq," section 6d.

1785 Ibid. See also U.S. Embassy – Baghdad, reporting, December 10, 2007.

1786 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Iraq."

1787 Ibid., section 5.

1788 Ibid., section 6d.

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