Last Updated: Thursday, 24 April 2014, 11:39 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Egypt

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 - Egypt, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa46dc.html [accessed 24 April 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 Labor1137
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2005:6.7
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2005:9.5
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2005:3.7
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%), Year:
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:14
Compulsory education age:For 9 years
Free public education:Yes
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:102
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:94
School attendance, children 6-14 years (%), 2005:88.1
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2004:94
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

A large proportion of working children in Egypt are found in the agricultural sector, where children are hired each year for the cotton harvest.1138 Children work in a number of hazardous sectors, including leather tanning, pottery making, fishing, glassworks, blacksmithing, working metal and copper, construction, carpentry, mining and quarrying, auto repair, textile manufacturing, and domestic labor.1139 There are between 600,000 and 1 million street children in Egypt.1140 Street children, primarily boys, work collecting garbage, begging, assisting microbuses, and vending.1141 Street children are particularly vulnerable to becoming involved in illicit activities, including pornography and prostitution.1142

Reports indicate a widespread practice of poor, rural families arranging to send their daughters to cities to work as domestic servants in the homes of wealthy residents. Child domestic workers are excluded from the protections of the labor code and are highly susceptible to exploitation, including physical and sexual abuse, as well as harsh working conditions.1143 Urban areas are also host to street children who have left their homes in the countryside to find work, and often to flee hostile conditions at home.1144 It has been reported that wealthy men from the Gulf region travel to Egypt for the purpose of temporary marriages, a form of commercial sexual exploitation, with minor girls. Girls are sold to men for short-term marriages that are akin to prostitution.1145 Often, the girls are sold by their parents.1146

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law prohibits the employment of children under 14 years.1147 The law also prohibits juveniles 14 to 17 years from working more than 6 hours per day; requires at least a 1 hour break per day; and prohibits juveniles from working overtime, on holidays, more than 4 consecutive hours, or between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.1148 However, the labor law does not apply to children working in the agricultural sector, small family enterprises, and domestic service.1149 The law also allows the employment of children 12 to 14 years in seasonal jobs that do not harm their health or affect their schooling,1150 and children 12 to 18 years may participate in certain types of apprenticeship training.1151 Children under 16 years are prohibited from working in 44 hazardous industries, including agricultural activities involving the use of pesticides.1152

The law prohibits forced labor and makes it illegal for a person to entice or assist a male under 21 years or a female of any age to depart the country to work in prostitution or other "immoral" activities. The law also prohibits the incitement of any person under 21 to commit any act of prostitution or immorality, including the use of children in the production, promotion, or distribution of pornography. Violations of these laws are punishable with imprisonment for 1 to 7 years.1153 Child traffickers may be prosecuted under laws related to the abduction of children and rape.1154 The minimum age for compulsory recruitment into the Egyptian Armed Forces is 18 years. Children may enter the Armed Forces at 16 years but may not engage in combat operations.1155

The Child Labor Unit within the Ministry of Manpower and Migration (MOMM) coordinates investigations into reports of child labor violations and enforces the laws pertaining to child labor. A separate unit within MOMM is responsible for child labor investigations in the agricultural sector.1156 MOMM reported that its 2,000 labor inspectors issued 72,000 citation violations between 2006 and the first 9 months of 2007.1157 USDOS reports that enforcement in state-owned businesses is adequate, while enforcement in the private and informal sectors is lacking.1158 Reports also indicate that child victims of commercial sexual exploitation are treated as criminals rather than victims by law enforcement officers.1159

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

The Government's National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) continues to implement activities to combat the worst forms of child labor, among other goals.1160 The NCCM is collaborating with MOMM, the Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF), ILO, UNICEF, World Food Program, and the Ministries of Social Affairs, Agriculture, Education, Health, and Interior to implement action programs to reduce child labor.1161 The NCCM implemented programs to withdraw working children from hazardous activities and provided families of at-risk children with alternative income generating support in order to reduce school drop out.1162 The NCCM and the Ministry of Social Security also provide services for street children.1163

The First Lady, Suzanne Mubarak, started an awareness-raising campaign to combat human trafficking. It calls for ethical business practices and improving law enforcement cooperation. On December 30, 2007, the NCCM established a new anti-trafficking unit.1164 In June 2007, state-owned television began broadcasting public service announcements regarding labor trafficking.1165

The Government of Egypt continues to participate in the USD 5.09 million USDOL-funded UN WFP project to combat exploitive child labor through education. The project aims to withdraw 4,300 children and prevent 6,000 children from exploitive labor.1166 The Government of Egypt is also participating in a USD 64,900 Italian-funded ILO-IPEC child labor project, a USD 1,788,175 Norwegian-funded interregional (Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania) ILO-IPEC project to combat child labor through education and training, and a USD 428,040 Swedish-funded interregional (Egypt, Guatemala, Tanzania, Pakistan, Indonesia) ILO-IPEC project to combat exploitive child labor and promote youth employment.1167


1137 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 Government of Egypt, Labour Law, Law No. 12/2003, (April 7), Article 99. See also Kawther Abu Gazaleh, Lamia Bulbul, and Suadad Najium, Gender, Education and Child Labour in Egypt, 2004, 28; available from [hard copy on file]. See also Government of Egypt, The Constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt, (May 22, 1980), articles 18, 20. See also U.S. Department of State, "Egypt," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2007, Washington, DC, March 11, 2008, section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100594.htm.

1138 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Egypt," section 6d. See also CEACR, "Comments made by the CEACR: Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138), Egypt (ratification: 1999)" (paper presented at the 75th Session, Geneva, 2002); available from [hard copy on file]. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Egypt: Children of the Quarries", IRINNews.org,, [online], April 9, 2006 [cited December 6, 2007]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=52702&SelectRegion=Middle_East&SelectCountry=EGYPT.

1139 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Egypt," section 6d. See also Tonia Rifaey, Mahmoud M. Murtada, and Mohamed Abd el-Azeem, "Urban Children and Poverty: Child Labor and Family Dynamics – Case Studies in Old Cairo" (paper presented at the Children and the City Conference, Amman, Jordan, December 11-13, 2002); available from http://www.araburban.org/childcity/Papers/English/ToniaRifaey.pdf. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Egypt: Children of the Quarries". See also WFP, Rapid Assessment: Identification of Worst Forms of Child Labor in Beni Sweif, Assiut, Sohag and Red Sea, May 2007, 4, 18-22.

1140 Rachel Bonham Carter, UNICEF Executive Director Visits Child-Centered Projects in Egypt, UNICEF, New York, February 20, 2007; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/egypt_38395.html.

1141 UNWFP, Rapid Assessment: Identification of Worst Forms of Child Labor in Beni Sweif, Assiut, Sohag and Red Sea, May 2007, 5.

1142 Clarisa Bencomo, Charged with Being Children: Egyptian Police Abuse of Children in Need of Protection, Human Rights Watch, New York, February 2003, 40; available from http://www.hrw.org/reports/2003/egypt0203/egypt0203.pdf. See also ECPAT International, CSEC Database, Egypt, [ accessed December 6, 2007]; available from http://www.ecpat.net/. See also Karam Saber, A Situational Analysis of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Egypt, Land Centre for Human Rights, March 2003, 4-6; available from http://www.ecpat.net/eng/ecpat_inter/projects/monitoring/rabat/egypt.pdf. See also U.S. Department of State, "Egypt (Tier 2 Watch List)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82805.htm.

1143 Saber, Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Egypt, 10-11. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Egypt."

1144 Bencomo, Charged with Being Children, 9, para 21d.

1145 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Egypt." See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Egypt: Minors Sold for Prostitution Under Guise of Marriage", IRINnews.org,, [online], November 16, 2006 [cited December 10, 2007]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportId=61947.

1146 Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Egypt: Minors Sold for Prostitution Under Guise of Marriage".

1147 Government of Egypt, Labour Law, article 99. See also ILO-IPEC, Gender, Education and Child Labour in Egypt, prepared by Kawther Abu Gazaleh, Lamia Bulbul, and Suadad Najium, 2004, 27; available from [hard copy on file].

1148 Government of Egypt, Labour Law, articles 98, 101.

1149 Ibid., Article 103. See also ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR), "Comments made by the CEACR: Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138), Egypt (ratification: 1999)" (paper presented at the 75th Session, Geneva, 2002), 3; available from http://webfusion.ilo.org/public/db/standards/normes/appl/.

1150 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Egypt," section 6d. See also ILO-IPEC, Gender, Education and Child Labour in Egypt, 28. See also ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR), "CEACR Comments", article 7, page 4. 1151 Government of Egypt, Decree Concerning the Rules and Procedures Regulating Vocational Apprenticeship, Decree No. 175 of 2003, (August 31), article 1. 1152 Government of Egypt, Decree Determining the System of Employing Children, and the Conditions, Terms and Cases in which They Are Employed as well as the Works, Vocations, and Industries in which it is Prohibited to Employ Them, According to the Different Stages of Age, Decree No. 118 of 2003, (June 30), Articles 1-9. See also U.S. Embassy – Cairo, reporting, August 18, 2003, para 2.

1153 Government of Egypt, "Egypt," in Legislation of Interpol Member States on Sexual Offences against Children, 2007; available from http://www.interpol.org/Public/Children/SexualAbuse/NationalLaws/csaEgypt.asp. See also UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), Periodic Reports of States Parties due in 1999, CERD/C/384/Add.3, prepared by Government of Egypt, pursuant to Article 9 of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, April 11, 2001, paras. 134; available from http://www.arabhumanrights.org/countries/egypt/cerd/cerd-c384-add3-01e.pdf.

1154 U.S. Embassy – Cairo, reporting, February 28, 2008. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Egypt."

1155 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Egypt," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=942.

1156 U.S. Embassy – Cairo, reporting, August 18, 2003, paras 7-8. See also CEACR, "CEACR Comments".

1157 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Egypt," section 6d.

1158 Ibid.

1159 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Egypt."

1160 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Egypt," section 6d.

1161 U.S. Embassy – Cairo, reporting, September 1, 2004, para. 7. See also U.S. Embassy – Cairo, reporting, September 12, 2005, 12. See also Abu Gazaleh, Bulbul, and Najium, Gender, Education and Child Labour in Egypt, 54. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Egypt," section 6d.

1162 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Egypt," section 6d.

1163 U.S. Embassy – Cairo, reporting, February 28, 2008.

1164 Ibid., para 1c.

1165 Ibid.

1166 USDOL, Combating Exploitive Child Labor through Education in Egypt, ILAB Technical Cooperation Project Summary, Washington, DC, 2008.

1167 ILO-IPEC Geneva official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, December 12, 2007.

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