Last Updated: Friday, 24 October 2014, 15:39 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Turkey

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 - Turkey, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa49538.html [accessed 26 October 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 Labor3423
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 1999:4.2
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 1999:4.6
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 1999:3.7
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%), 1999:
     – Agriculture66.7
     – Manufacturing13.4
     – Services18
     – Other2
Minimum age for work:15
Compulsory education age:14 or 8th grade
Free public education:Yes
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:94
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:90
School attendance, children 6-14 years (%), 1999:88.1
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2004:97
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In Turkey, children work in agriculture, small-scale manufacturing, leather goods, shoe-making, auto repair, and carpentry.3424 The State Statistical Institute estimated that 960,000 children ages 6 to 17 were working in 2006.3425 Girls were more likely to work in less visible occupations, such as handicrafts.3426 Turkish children working in the furniture sector face health and safety risks, including exposure to dangerous chemicals and dangerous machinery.3427 According to the General Directorate of Social Services and Child Protection of Turkey, approximately 50,000 children work in the streets of 10 provinces in Turkey. Children working on the streets are involved in shoe polishing, windshield cleaning, water carrying, scavenging through trash, or selling tissues, chewing gum, flowers, or baked goods. Street work makes children more vulnerable to health hazards, respiratory disease, infections, and exposure to toxic substances. They are also exposed to alcohol and narcotic use. Children working on the street are also more vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking.3428 In some parts of Turkey, children are engaged in seasonal commercial agriculture and face poor living and working conditions. They work long hours and are involved in harvesting, animal husbandry, forestry, weeding, and collecting water. Some of these children migrate with their families for 3 to 7 months at a time and have difficulty attending school.3429

A small percentage of victims trafficked to Turkey for commercial sexual exploitation are children.3430 Turkey is also used as a transit point for trafficked persons to a limited extent.3431 While comprehensive data is lacking, internal trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation is believed to be less common than international trafficking. There were press reports regarding cases of internal child trafficking for forced labor.3432

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law establishes the minimum age for employment at 15 years. The law, however, allows children 14 years of age to perform light work that does not interfere with their education and does not hinder their physical, mental, or moral development.3433 Before beginning a job, children 14 to 18 years must undergo a physical examination, which is to be repeated every 6 months.3434 Children under 16 years are permitted to work no more than 8 hours per day.3435 During the compulsory education period, children are prohibited from working more than 2 hours per day or 10 hours per week.3436 Under the law, persons should not be required to perform work unsuitable for their age or capabilities.3437

The Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MOLSS) has published a list of prohibited occupations for children 15 to 18 years.3438 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 18.3439 The law prohibits the employment of children under 18 years in industrial night work.3440 Seasonal agricultural work, dangerous conditions in small and medium sized enterprises, and child labor in the streets are classified as among the worst forms of child labor in Turkey.3441

Forced or compulsory labor, including by children, is forbidden by law.3442 The minimum age for conscription into the Armed Forces is 19 years.3443 The law prohibits prostitution under the age of 21 years, and the sexual exploitation of children.3444 Child sexual abuse is punishable by 3 years to life imprisonment.3445 The use of children in pornographic materials is punishable by imprisonment for 5 to 10 years.3446 The law also designates the trafficking of persons as a crime; those convicted face 8 to 12 years in prison.3447 Foreign victims are permitted to apply for humanitarian visas and remain in the country for up to 6 months, with the option to extend for an additional 6 months.3448

A Child Labor Unit in MOLSS exists to provide collaboration and coordination among Government agencies, trade unions, employers' organizations, and nongovernmental organizations towards the elimination of WFCL.3449 The National Guidance Committee, chaired by the Deputy Undersecretary of MOLSS, decides the suitability of programs designed to combat child labor in Turkey.3450 MOLSS inspectors are responsible for enforcing child labor laws in Turkey.3451 There are approximately 600 labor inspectors operating in Turkey. All have been trained to identify cases of exploitive child labor.3452 According to the Labor Inspection Board (LIB), 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. Work on agricultural sites and workplaces with fewer than 50 workers, maritime transport, family businesses, small shops, and the informal economy are not covered by the labor law. These are places where children are frequently engaged in work, but cannot be regulated by the inspectorate.3453 Therefore, the LIB has focused on protecting working children by improving their working conditions.3454 The Government enforces laws more effectively in medium and large businesses than in small and informal enterprises.3455

The Commission on Child Laborers Working on the Streets investigates instances of child labor and proposes intervention programs. A parallel committee exists within the Grand Turkish National Assembly.3456 The Ministry of the Interior's (MOI) Child Police are specifically responsible for protecting children, including protecting working children from employer abuses.3457

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice, MOI, including the Turkish National Police (TNP) and Jandarma, and MOLSS are the agencies most involved in anti-trafficking activities in Turkey, though other agencies, including the Prime Ministry Social Services and Orphanages Directorate, the Ministry of Health, municipal governments, and key NGOs and international organizations are actively involved.3458 The Government's interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking meets frequently, and Turkish agencies cooperate on prevention and prosecution of trafficking with neighboring source countries. TNP has a leading role in international trafficking investigations.3459 The Jandarma has specialized, trained anti-trafficking teams operating throughout the country.3460 The Government of Turkey apprehended 308 suspected traffickers and convicted 121 for trafficking offenses in 2007.3461

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.3462 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 2014.3463 Eleven provinces have developed provincial action plans to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in street work.3464 The Turkish Statistics Institute published the results of a Child Labor Survey in October 2007. The study showed evidence of a decline in child labor in Turkey.3465 The Government also has a national action plan to address trafficking.3466

The Government of Turkey participated 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 included activities in 11 provinces, targeting the priority sectors of street work, the informal economy, and seasonal agricultural labor.3467 The project withdrew 5,661 children and prevented 7,448 children from exploitive labor.3468 The Government is also participating in a USDOL-funded USD 6 million project, Combating Exploitive Child Labor through Education in Turkey, 2004-2008.3469 The project targets children working under hazardous conditions in seasonal agriculture in the provinces of Gaziantep, anliurfa, Elazig, and Ankara.3470 The project aims to withdraw 3,500 children and prevent 6,500 children from exploitive labor.3471 The Government is also participating in a USD 6.4 million European Commission-funded ILOIPEC implemented project to combat the worst forms of child labor in Turkey.3472 The Government of Turkey provides rehabilitation services to children withdrawn from WFCL at 44 centers throughout the country.3473

Turk-Is, the largest labor union confederation, and the Turkish Confederation of Employers' Association (TISK), the largest employers' confederation, started a joint project in Adana in 2007 designed to provide educational opportunities to children working or at risk of working in the agriculture and furniture sectors. The project will contribute to the creation of a joint Turk-Is/TISK Child Bureau.3474 MOLSS distributes information, including calendars, leaflets, magazines, and compact discs, to public agencies, labor unions, employers' confederations, and NGOs to generate support for action against WFCL.3475

In 2007, the Jandarma distributed 3,280 copies of its "Guide to Fight Human Trafficking Crimes" to officers.3476 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.3477 IOM worked with the Police to identify and refer trafficking victims to shelters.3478 Funding was provided by the government for rent, utilities, and administrative expenses for two shelters.3479 The Government also ran an anti-trafficking hotline.3480 Anti-trafficking brochures were printed and distributed by law enforcement officers, and informational passport inserts were provided by consular officials at Turkish embassies and by officials at ports of entry.3481


3423 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 U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, August 20, 2003. See also U.S. Department of State, "Turkey," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2007, March 11, 2008, section 5, 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100589.htm.

3424 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Turkey," section 6d.

3425 Ibid.

3426 Ibid.

3427 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), Project Document, TUR/03/P50/USA, Geneva, 2003, 44, 46.

3428 Ibid., 35, 40, 41, 43.

3429 IMPAQ International, Combating Exploitative Child Labor through Education in Turkey, Project Document, Columbia, MD, May 17, 2005, 7-8.

3430 U.S. Department of State, "Turkey (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Turkey," section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – Ankara official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, July 18, 2008.

3431 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Turkey." See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Turkey," section 5.

3432 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Turkey," section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, March 4, 2008.

3433 Government of Turkey, Labor Act of Turkey, Law No. 4857, (May 22, 2003), article 71; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/region/eurpro/ankara/legislation/law4857.htm.

3434 Ibid., article 87.

3435 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Turkey," section 6d.

3436 Government of Turkey, Labor Act, article 71.

3437 Government of Turkey, Constitution of the Republic of Turkey, 1982, article 50; available from http://www.hri.org/docs/turkey/. See also Government of Turkey, Labor Act, article 71.

3438 U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, December 14, 2007. See also U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, August 26, 2004. See also Government of Turkey, Labor Act, article 71.

3439 Government of Turkey, Labor Act, article 72.

3440 Ibid., article 73.

3441 U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, December 14, 2007. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Turkey," section 6d.

3442 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Turkey," section 6c.

3443 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Turkey," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=933.

3444 Government of Turkey, "Turkey," in Legislation of Interpol Member States on Sexual Offenses Against Children, 2008; available from http://www.interpol.int/Public/Children/SexualAbuse/NationalLaws/csaTurkey.asp. See also U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, August 20, 2003.

3445 U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, March 4, 2008.

3446 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.

3447 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Turkey." See also U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, March 4, 2008. See also Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Turkey, Turkey on Trafficking in Human Beings, [previously online], June 27, 2005; available from [hard copy on file].

3448 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Turkey." See also U.S. Embassy – Ankara official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, July 18, 2008.

3449 Ministry of Labor and Social Security, Views of the Government of Turkey Regarding 2008 Child Labor Review in the Production of Certain GSP-Eligible Hand-Loomed or Hand-Hooked Carpets, February 14, 2008, 3.

3450 Ibid.

3451 U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, December 14, 2007. 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, 5-6. See also Embassy of Turkey, The Implemented Programs and Measures Taken Against Child Labor in Turkey, Washington, DC, November 9, 2001.

3452 U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, December 14, 2007.

3453 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 – 2007: Turkey," section 6d.

3454 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.

3455 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Turkey," section 6d.

3456 ILO-IPEC, Combating WFCL, Technical Progress Report, March 2005, 2,3.

3457 ILO-IPEC, Combating WFCL, Project Document, 50.

3458 U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, March 4, 2008. See also U.S. Embassy – Ankara official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, July 18, 2008.

3459 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Turkey," section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – Ankara official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, July 18, 2008.

3460 U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, March 4, 2008. See also U.S. Embassy – Ankara official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, July 18, 2008.

3461 U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, March 4, 2008. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Turkey," section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – Ankara official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, July 18, 2008.3462 Republic of Turkey Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Executive Summary of the Turkish National Program for the Adoption of the Acquis, 2003.

3463 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. See also U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, December 14, 2007.

3464 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, Geneva, August 31, 2007, 3.

3465 Turkish Statistics Institute, Working Child – 2006, Ankara, October 2007. See also ILO-IPEC, Combating WFCL, Technical Progress Report, August 31, 2007, 4.

3466 U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, March 4, 2008.

3467 ILO-IPEC, Combating WFCL, Project Document, cover, 2.

3468 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 (2004-2007), Technical Progress Report, Geneva, February 28, 2008, table III.C.

3469 IMPAQ International, Combating Exploitative Child Labor through Education in Turkey, cover.

3470 Ibid.

3471 IMPAQ International, Combating Exploitive Child Labor through Education in Turkey, Technical Progress Report, Columbia, MD, September 2007. See also USDOL, Combating Exploitive Child Labor through Education in Turkey, ILAB Technical Cooperation Project Summary, Washington, DC, 2008.

3472 ILO-IPEC Geneva official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, December 12, 2007.

3473 U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, December 14, 2007.

3474 Ibid.

3475 Ibid.

3476 U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, March 4, 2008.

3477 U.S. Department of State, "Turkey," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2006, Washington, DC, March 6, 2007, Section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78844.htm. See also U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, March 4, 2008.

3478 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Turkey." See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Turkey," section 5.

3479 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Turkey."

3480 Ibid.

3481 Ibid. See also U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, March 4, 2008. See also U.S. Embassy – Ankara official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, July 18, 2008.

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