Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 August 2014, 14:57 GMT

2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Turkey

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 31 August 2007
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Turkey, 31 August 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d749584a.html [accessed 28 August 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 Labor
Percent of children 5-14 estimated as working in 1999:4.2%4195
Minimum age of work:154196
Age to which education is compulsory:144197
Free public education:Yes4198
Gross primary enrollment rate in 2002:91%4199
Net primary enrollment rate in 2002:86%4200
Percent of children 5-14 attending school in 1999:88.1%4201
Percent of primary school entrants likely to reach grade 5:Unavailable
Ratified Convention 138:10/30/19984202
Ratified Convention 182:8/02/20014203
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes4204

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 1999, approximately 4.6 percent of boys and 3.7 percent of girls ages 5 to 14 were working in Turkey. The majority of working children were found in the agricultural sector (66.7 percent), followed by services (18 percent), manufacturing (13.4 percent), and other sectors (2 percent).4205 Children are engaged in agriculture, metal work, woodworking, textiles and leather goods production, domestic service,4206 automobile repair, furniture making, hotel and catering work, and footwear production.4207 A rapid assessment on working street children in 2001 found that street children in the cities of Diyarbakir, Adana, and Istanbul pick through garbage, shine shoes, and sell various goods, among other activities.4208

Children are trafficked to Turkey for commercial sexual exploitation and, to a lesser extent, forced labor.4209 Turkey is also used as a transit point for trafficked persons. Internal trafficking also occurs.4210

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law establishes the minimum age for employment at 15 years. The law, however, allows children 14 years to perform light work that does not interfere with their education, and it enables governors in provinces dependent on agriculture to determine the minimum age for work in that sector. Before beginning a heavy and dangerous job, children 15 to 18 years must undergo a physical examination, which is to be repeated every 6 months.4211 Children under 16 are permitted to work no more than 8 hours per day.4212 While attending school, children are prohibited from working more than 2 hours per day or 10 hours per week. Under the law, persons should not be required to perform work unsuitable for their age or capabilities.4213

The minimum age for recruitment into the armed forces is 19 years.4214 The Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MOLSS) published a list of prohibited occupations for children 15 to 18 years.4215 Children 15 to 18 years are not permitted to work in bars, coffee houses, dance halls, cabarets, casinos, or public baths, or to engage in industrial or night work. The law prohibits underground and underwater work for females of any age and for boys under 18.4216 The law prohibits prostitution under 214217 and the sexual exploitation of children.4218 The use of children in pornographic materials is punishable by imprisonment for 5 to 10 years.4219 The law also designates the trafficking of persons as a crime; those convicted face 8 to 12 years in prison.4220

The MOLSS Labor Inspection Board is responsible for enforcing child labor laws in Turkey.4221 Approximately 100 field inspectors have been trained to handle child labor issues.4222 According to the Board, the MOLSS has been unable to effectively prevent child labor for a variety of reasons, including traditional attitudes, socio-economic factors, and the predominantly informal nature of child labor in Turkey. The work in which many children engage is not covered by labor laws, such as work in agricultural sites/workplaces with fewer than 50 workers, maritime transport, family businesses, small shops, and the informal economy, and therefore cannot be regulated by the inspectorate.4223 Therefore, the Board has focused on protecting working children by improving their working conditions.4224 The government enforces laws more effectively in medium and large businesses.4225

A Commission on Child Labor Working on the Streets investigates instances of child labor and proposes intervention programs. A parallel committee exists within the Grand Turkish National Assembly.4226 The Interior Ministry's Child Police are specifically responsible for protecting children, including protecting working children from employer abuses.4227

The Task Force on Human Trafficking coordinates government action on trafficking and includes members from the Ministries of Health, Interior, Justice, Finance, and Labor.4228

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

In working towards meeting EU accession conditions, priorities for the Government of Turkey include fulfilling obligations to eliminate child labor.4229 The Government of Turkey has developed a National Timebound Policy and Program Framework designed to eliminate the worst forms of child labor and the involvement of children under 15 in all forms of work by 2014.4230

The Government of Turkey is participating in the USD 2.5 million USDOL-funded ILO-IPEC project, Combating the Worst Forms of Child Labor in Turkey – Supporting the Timebound Program for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor in Turkey (2003-2007). The program includes activities in 11 provinces on the basis of the prevalence of child work in priority sectors of street work, informal economy, and seasonal agricultural labor.4231 The project aims to withdraw 4,000 children and prevent 6,500 children from exploitive labor.4232 The government is cooperating with a USDOL-funded USD 6 million project, Combating Exploitative Child Labor through Education in Turkey, 2004-2008.4233 The project is focused on assisting children working under hazardous conditions in seasonal agriculture in the provinces of Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Mardin, Elazig, Agri, and Ankara.4234 The project aims to withdraw 3,500 children and prevent 6,500 children from exploitive labor.4235 The government is also participating in a European Commission-funded USD 6.4 million project to combat the worst forms of child labor in Turkey.4236

The Government of Turkey is taking steps to combat trafficking of persons.4237 The Ministry of Health provides free medical treatment to persons who have been trafficked, and the Ministry of Justice provides free legal services to victims remaining in the country.4238 The government sponsors anti-trafficking training programs for law enforcement officers and a hotline. Antitrafficking brochures have been printed and distributed by law enforcement officers. Informational passport inserts have been provided by consular officials and at border crossings.4239 Anti-trafficking protocols have been signed with Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova.4240 With USD 600,000 in U.S. Government funding, IOM began a new trafficking-awareness campaign in Turkey focusing on the negative results trafficking has on families and children.4241


4195 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, October 7, 2005.

4196 U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, August 20, 2003. See also U.S. Department of State, "Turkey," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2006, Washington, DC, March 6, 2007, Section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78844.htm.

4197 Embassy of Turkey, The Implemented Programs and Measures Taken Against Child Labor in Turkey, Washington, DC, November 9, 2001, 5. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Turkey," Section 5.

4198 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Turkey," Section 5.

4199 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Gross and Net Enrolment Ratios, Primary, Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

4200 Ibid.

4201 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

4202 ILO, List of Ratifications of International Labor Conventions, Minimum Age Convention, 1973, February 5, 2007; available from http://webfusion.ilo.org/public/db/standards/normes/appl/appl-byConvYear.cfm?hdroff=1&Lang=EN&conv=C138.

4203 ILO, List of Ratifications of International Labor Conventions, Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention, 1999, February 5, 2007; available from http://webfusion.ilo.org/public/db/standards/normes/appl/appl-byConvYear.cfm?hdroff=1&Lang=EN&conv=C182.

4204 ILO-IPEC, IPEC Action Against Child Labor: Highlights 2006, Geneva, October 2006.

4205 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

4206 Government of Turkey and UNICEF, The Situation of Children and Women in Turkey: An Executive Summary, [online] 1998 [cited October 22, 2006], Section E: Child Labor; available from http://www.die.gov.tr/CIN/Sa98.pdf. See also Ministry of Labor and Social Security Labor Inspection Board, Report on the Implementation of Labor Inspection Policy on Child Labor in Turkey, Ankara, June 2000, 3, 26. See also UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

4207 Government of Turkey and UNICEF, Situation of Children and Women, Section E: Child Labor. See also Ministry of Labor and Social Security Labor Inspection Board, Report on the Implementation of Labor Inspection Policy, 26.

4208 Bahattin Aksit, Nuray Karanci, and Ayse Gunduz-Hosgor, Turkey Working Street Children in Three Metropolitan Cities: A Rapid Assessment, ILO, Geneva, November 2001, 41-42; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/simpoc/turkey/ra/street.pdf.

4209 U.S. Department of State, "Turkey (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006, Washington, DC, June 5, 2006; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2006/. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Turkey," Section 5.

4210 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Turkey."

4211 U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, August 20, 2003.

4212 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Turkey," Section 6d.

4213 Constitution of the Republic of Turkey, Article 50; available from http://www.hri.org/docs/turkey/.

4214 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Turkey," in Child Soldiers Global Report – 2004, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=933.

4215 U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, August 26, 2004.

4216 See Article 176 of the 1930 General Health Care Act 1593 and Articles 68, 69, and 78 of the Labor Act 1475 as cited in Turkish Confederation of Employer Associations and ILO Ankara, Child Labor in Turkey, ILO Publications Bureau, Geneva, 1997, 28,31.

4217 Interpol, Legislation of Interpol Member States on Sexual Offenses Against Children – Turkey, [online] accessed October 22, 2006; available from http://www.interpol.int/Public/Children/SexualAbuse/NationalLaws/csaTurkey.asp.

4218 U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, August 20, 2003.

4219 ILO-IPEC, Combating the Worst Forms of Child Labor in Turkey – Supporting the Timebound Program for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor in Turkey (2004-2006), technical progress report, TUR/03/P50/USA, Geneva, March 2005, 2.

4220 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Turkey," Section 5. See also Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Turkey, Turkey on Trafficking in Human Beings, June 27, 2005.

4221 Ministry of Labor and Social Security Labor Inspection Board, Report on the Implementation of Labor Inspection Policy, 5-6. See also Embassy of Turkey, The Implemented Programs and Measures Taken Against Child Labor.

4222 U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, September 1, 2005.

4223 Ministry of Labor and Social Security Labor Inspection Board, Report on the Implementation of Labor Inspection Policy, 3-5. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Turkey," Section 6d.

4224 Embassy of Turkey, The Implemented Programs and Measures Taken Against Child Labor, 3-7. See also Embassy of Turkey, Policies, Programs, and Measures Against Child Labor in Turkey, Washington, DC, September 6, 2002, 10, 11, 14.

4225 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Turkey," Section 6d.

4226 ILO-IPEC, Combating the Worst Forms of Child Labor (2004-2006), technical progress report, March 2005, 2,3.

4227 ILO-IPEC, Combating the Worst Forms of Child Labor (2004-2006), project document, 50.

4228 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Turkey," Section 5.

4229 Republic of Turkey Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Executive Summary of the Turkish National Program for the Adoption of the Acquis, 2003.

4230 ILO-IPEC, Summary Outline for Action Programme on Child Labour (2004-2006), TUR/03/P50/USA, July 27, 2004, 2,3. See also Ministry of Labor and Social Security Child Labor Unit, Timebound Policy and Programme Framework for the Elimination of Child Labor Turkey (Draft), 2003, 47.

4231 ILO-IPEC, Combating the Worst Forms of Child Labor (2004-2006), project document, cover, 2.

4232 USDOL, Combating the Worst Forms of Child Labor in Turkey – Supporting the Timebound National Policy and Program for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor in Turkey, ILAB Technical Cooperation Project Summary, Washington, DC.

4233 IMPAQ International, Combating Exploitative Child Labor through Education in Turkey, project document, May 17, 2005, cover.

4234 IMPAQ International, Combating Exploitative Child Labor through Education in Turkey, project revision, September 19, 2005.

4235 USDOL, Combating Exploitive Child Labor through Education in Turkey, ILAB Technical Cooperation Project Summary, Washington, DC.

4236 ILO-IPEC official, Email communication to USDOL official, November 16, 2006.

4237 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Turkey."

4238 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Turkey," Section 5.

4239 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Turkey."

4240 Ibid.

4241 UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Central Asia-Turkey: IOM Launches New Antitrafficking Campaign, [online] February 1, 2006 [cited October 22, 2006]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=51485&SelectRegion=Asia&SelectCountry=CENTRAL_ASIATURKEY.

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