Last Updated: Friday, 22 August 2014, 15:07 GMT

2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Turkey

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 29 August 2006
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Turkey, 29 August 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7491049.html [accessed 23 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 Child Labor Measures Adopted by Governments
Ratified Convention 138     10/30/98
Ratified Convention 182     8/2/01
ILO-IPEC Member
National Plan for Children 
National Child Labor Action Plan
Sector Action Plan 

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

An estimated 4.2 percent of children ages 5 to 14 years were counted as working in Turkey in 1999. Approximately 4.6 percent of all boys 5 to 14 were working compared to 3.7 percent of girls in the same age group. 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).4714 Children are engaged in metal work, woodworking, textiles and leather goods production, domestic service,4715 automobile repair, furniture making, hotel and catering work, and footwear production.4716 Currently, the government has identified the worst forms of child labor as street work, work in hazardous industries or the urban informal economy, and seasonal agricultural labor.4717 A rapid assessment on working street children in 2001 found that street children in the cities of Diyarbakir, Adana, and Istanbul pick through garbage at dumpsites, shine shoes, and sell various goods, among other activities.4718 Child labor is one of many problems associated with poverty. In 2000, less than 2 percent of the population in Turkey were living on less than USD 1 a day.4719

Girls are trafficked to Turkey from Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation.4720 Turkey is also used as a transit point for children trafficked to Western Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, the former Yugoslavia, and Africa for sexual exploitation and forced labor.4721

Under the Compulsory Basic Education Act, primary education is obligatory for a period of 8 years. A typical child's basic education is concluded by age 13 or 14.4722 In 2002, the gross primary enrollment rate was 91 percent and the net primary enrollment rate was 86 percent.4723 Gross and net enrollment ratios are based on the number of students formally registered in primary school and therefore do not necessarily reflect actual school attendance. In 1999, 88.1 percent of children ages 5 to 14 years were attending school.4724

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor 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 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 ages 15 to 18 years of age must undergo a physical examination, which is to be repeated every 6 months.4725 Children under 16 are permitted to work no more than 8 hours per day.4726 While attending school, children are prohibited from working more than 2 hours per day or 10 hours per week. The Apprenticeship and Vocational Training Act No. 3308 allows children ages 14 to 18 who have completed the mandatory 8 years of education to be employed as apprentices. Apprenticeship programs provide a wide range of occupational training at 346 training centers in 81 cities and in 113 occupations.4727 Ministry of National Education Training Centers are required by law to inspect these apprenticeship workplaces and ensure adequate working conditions.4728

According to the Constitution, no person is required to perform work unsuitable for their age or capabilities.4729

The worst forms of child labor may be prosecuted under different statutes in Turkey. The minimum age for recruitment into the armed forces is 19 years.4730 Criminal law prohibits prostitution under the age of 214731 and the sexual exploitation of children.4732 A new Penal Code, which became effective June 1, 2005, forbids the use of children in pornographic materials. This is punishable by imprisonment for 5 to 10 years.4733 The Penal Code also designates the trafficking of persons as a crime. Those convicted face 8 to 12 years in prison and, at the judge's discretion, an additional 10,000 days of incarceration.4734 The Code calls for a fine not less than 1 billion Turkish Lira (USD 737).4735 Since 1999, the Government of Turkey submitted to the ILO a list or an equivalent document identifying the types of work that it has determined are harmful to the health, safety or morals of children under Convention 182 or Convention 138.4736 The Ministry of Labor Social Security (MOLSS) also published a list of permitted occupations for children 15 to 18 years of age.4737 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 night work. The law prohibits underground and underwater work for women of any age and for boys under the age of 18.4738

The MOLSS Labor Inspection Board is responsible for enforcing child labor laws in Turkey.4739 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. According to the U.S. Department of State, 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 and air transport, family businesses, small shops, and the informal economy, and therefore cannot be regulated by the inspectorate.4740 Therefore, the Board has focused on protecting working children by improving their working conditions.4741 Enforcement of labor laws is easier in medium and large-sized businesses.4742 Approximately 100 field inspectors have been trained to handle child labor issues.4743 The MOLSS's Child Labor Unit (CLU) is active in combating the worst forms of child labor in Turkey. In 2005, the government increased the resources given to the CLU and staff levels increased from 3 to 12 persons.4744

A Parliamentarian Commission on Child Labor Working on the Streets was formed to investigate instances of child labor and to propose intervention programs. The commission is composed of the Ministers of Justice, Interior, Health, Education, and the State Minister responsible for Family and Women Affairs. A parallel committee was formed within the Grand Turkish National Assembly.4745 The Interior Ministry's Child Police are specifically responsible for protecting children, including protecting working children from employer abuses.4746 Under the Law on Social Services and Child Protection Institution, No. 2828, children who are subjected to the worst forms of child labor are placed under the protection of the state. Care and rehabilitation is provided for those children at 30 centers around the country.4747

The Task Force on Human Trafficking coordinates government action on trafficking and includes members from the Ministries of Health, Interior, Justice, and Labor, as well as the Directorate General for Social Services and Child Protection, the Directorate General on the Status and Problems of Women, and academics from Marmara University. The Task Force is headed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.4748

In 2004, the government identified 239 persons who were trafficked. Between January 2004 and March 2005, 103 were voluntarily repatriated to their home countries. Between November 2004 and February 2005, 46 trafficked persons were provided shelter assistance in Istanbul.4749 In 2004, the government initiated prosecutions of 142 suspected traffickers.4750 According to the U.S. State Department, reports indicate that police corruption hampers efforts to fight trafficking and contributes to the problem.4751

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.4752 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 below the age of 15 in all forms of work between 2004 and 2014.4753 A chapter on child labor is also included in the Eighth 5-Year Development Plan of Turkey (2000-2005). The child labor policy directives include eliminating the causes forcing children to work and the constraints that prevent children from attending school, and harmonizing national legislation with international conventions. This plan commits the government to respond to child labor issues by promoting policies to increase family income, provide social welfare, and reduce education costs for the poor.4754

The Government of Turkey has committed to making a significant contribution (USD 6.2 million) to support the 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, 2004-2006. The program includes activities in 11 provinces based on the prevalence of child work in priority sectors of street work, informal economy, and seasonal agricultural labor.4755 The government is also participating in the USDOL-funded USD 6 million project Combating Exploitative Child Labor through Education in Turkey, 2004-2008.4756 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.4757 Various other regional child labor elimination programs are underway throughout the country, supported by the national or local level authorities. The government operates 28 centers to aid working street children.4758

The Government of Turkey is taking steps to combat trafficking of persons.4759 The Ministry of Health provides free medical treatment for children who have been trafficked.4760 The government sponsors anti-trafficking training programs and a hotline. Anti-trafficking brochures were printed and distributed by law enforcement officers.4761

The World Bank provided a loan to support the second Basic Education Project. The Government of Turkey's goals for its Basic Education Program are for all eligible children to enroll in and complete basic education, for pre-school enrollment of eligible children to reach 25 percent, to improve student performance, and for 40 percent of children in basic education to be utilizing information and communication technologies. It has improved education through a number of measures, including the construction of new classrooms, provision of education materials, and teacher training. The project will conclude in 2006.4762 The World Bank also funds the Social Risk Mitigation Project. It finances the expansion of education and health grants for the poorest six percent of families to prevent dropouts among at-risk youth.4763 On March 15, 2005, the World Bank approved a USD 96.1 million loan to fund a Secondary Education Project aimed at supporting the government's goals to increase the compulsory education period from 8 to 12 years and increase the enrollment rates of basic education graduates in secondary education programs.4764 The Ministry of National Education and UNICEF support the Advocacy Campaign for Girls' Education which aims to place every girl in school by the end of 2005. The program was launched in 10 provinces and will expand to an additional 40.4765


4714 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, October 7, 2005. Reliable data on the worst forms of child labor are especially difficult to collect given the often hidden or illegal nature of the worst forms, such as the use of children in the illegal drug trade, prostitution, pornography, and trafficking. As a result, statistics and information on children's work in general are reported in this section. Such statistics and information may or may not include the worst forms of child labor. For more information on the definition of working children and other indicators used in this report, please see the section in the front of the report titled "Data Sources and Definitions."

4715 This data is based on a 1994 joint Ministry of Labor and Social Security-IPEC survey as well as a second joint IPEC-Turkish Development Foundation survey. See Government of Turkey and UNICEF, The Situation of Children and Women in Turkey: An Executive Summary, [online] 1998 [cited March 18, 2004], 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.

4716 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.

4717 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, 4. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Turkey, Washington, D.C., February 28, 2005, Section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41713.htm.

4718 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.

4719 World Bank, World Development Indicators 2005 [CD-ROM], Washington, DC, 2005.

4720 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2005: Turkey, June 2005, 214-5; available from http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/47255.pdf. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Turkey, Section 5.

4721 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons – 2005. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Turkey, Section 5.

4722 Embassy of Turkey, The Implemented Programs and Measures Taken Against Child Labor in Turkey, Washington, D.C., November 9, 2001, 5. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Turkey, Section 5.

4723 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, http://stats.uis.unesco.org/TableViewer/tableView.aspx?ReportID=51 (Gross and Net Enrolment Ratios, Primary; accessed October 2005).

4724 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

4725 U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, August 22, 2003.

4726 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Turkey, Section 6d.

4727 Ibid.

4728 Ibid.

4729 Constitution of the Republic of Turkey, Article 50; available from http://www.hri.org/docs/turkey/.

4730 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Global Report – Turkey, 2004; available from http://www.child soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=933.

4731 Interpol, Legislation of Interpol Member States on Sexual Offenses Against Children – Turkey, September 26, 2005; available from http://www.interpol.int/Public/Children/SexualAbuse/NationalLaws/csaTurkey.asp.

4732 U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, August 22, 2003.

4733 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. See also Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Turkey, Turkey on Trafficking in Human Beings, June 27, 2005; available from http://www.mfa.tr/MFA/ForeignPolicy/MainIssues/TurkeyOnTraficingInHumanBeings/TurkeyonTraffickinginHumanBeings .htm.

4734 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Turkey, Section 5. See also Republic of Turkey, Turkey on Trafficking in Human Beings.

4735 U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, August 22, 2003. See also OANDA.com, FX Converter, [cited November 21, 2005]; available from http://www.oanda.com/convert/classic.

4736 U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, August 26, 2004. See also ILO-IPEC official, email communication to USDOL official, November 14, 2005.

4737 U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, August 26, 2004.

4738 See Article 176 of the 1930 General Health Care Act 1593 and Articles 68, 69, 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, 31.

4739 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.

4740 Ministry of Labor and Social Security Labor Inspection Board, Report on the Implementation of Labor Inspection Policy, 3-5. See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Turkey, Section 6d.

4741 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, D.C., September 6, 2002, 10, 11, 14.

4742 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Turkey, Section 6d.

4743 U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, September 1, 2005.

4744 Ibid.

4745 ILO-IPEC, Combating the Worst Forms of Child Labor (2004-2006), Technical Progress Report, March 2005, 2, 3.

4746 ILO-IPEC, Combating the Worst Forms of Child Labor (2004-2006), Project Document, 50.

4747 U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, September 1, 2005.

4748 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Turkey, Section 5.

4749 The ages of trafficked persons are not known. See Republic of Turkey, Turkey on Trafficking in Human Beings.

4750 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons – 2005.

4751 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Turkey, Section 5.

4752 Republic of Turkey Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Executive Summary of the Turkish National Program for the Adoption of the Acquis, 2003.

4753 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.

4754 ILO-IPEC, International Program for Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC) Turkey, [online] January 21, 2004 [cited March 18, 2004], 1-2; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/region/eurpro/ankara/programme/ipec.htm. See also Embassy of Turkey, The Implemented Programs and Measures Taken Against Child Labor, 5-7. See also U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, August 26, 2004.

4755 ILO-IPEC, Combating the Worst Forms of Child Labor (2004-2006), Project Document, cover, 2.

4756 IMPAQ International, Combating Exploitative Child Labor through Education in Turkey, project document, May 17, 2005, cover.

4757 IMPAQ International, Combating Exploitative Child Labor through Education in Turkey, project revision, September 19, 2005.

4758 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Turkey, Section 6d.

4759 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons – 2005.

4760 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Turkey, Section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – Ankara, reporting, August 26, 2004.

4761 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons – 2005.

4762 World Bank, Project Appraisal Document on a Proposed Loan in the Amount of US$300 Million to the Republic of Turkey for a Second Basic Education Project in Support of the Second Phase of the Basic Education Program, June 12, 2002 [cited June 27, 2005], 3-7; available from http://wwwwds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2002/07/09/000094946_0206260400300/Rendered/PDF/multi0pag e.pdf. See also World Bank, Basic Education Project (02), June 27, 2005 [cited June 27, 2005]; available from http://web.worldbank.org/external/projects/main?pagePK=104231&piPK=73230&theSitePK=40941&menuPK=228424&Projecti d=P059872.

4763 World Bank, Project Appraisal Document on a Proposed Investment/Adjustment Loan in the Amount of US$500 Million to the Republic of Turkey for a Social Risk Mitigation Project/Loan, August 17, 2001 [cited June 27, 2005], 2; available from http://wwwwds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2001/10/18/000094946_01082504044864/Rendered/PDF/multi0pa ge.pdf. See also World Bank, Social Risk Mitigation Project, June 27, 2005 [cited June 27, 2005]; available from http://web.worldbank.org/external/projects/main?pagePK=104231&piPK=73230&theSitePK=40941&menuPK=228424&Projecti d=P074408.

4764 World Bank, Project Appraisal Document on a Proposed Loan in the Amount of Euro 80.00 Million to the Republic of Turkey for Secondary Education Project, February 16, 2005, 3; available from http://wwwwds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2005/02/25/000090341_20050225092434/Rendered/PDF/27983.pdf See also World Bank, Secondary Education, June 12, 2002 [cited June 27, 2005]; available from http://www.worldbank.org.tr/external/default/main?pagePK=64027221&piPK=64027220&theSitePK=361712&menuPK=361744 &Projectid=P066149.

4765 UNICEF, One in Every Eight Girls Out of School in Turkey, [online press release] July 19 2003 [cited June 27, 2005]; available from http://www.unicef.org/media/media_10946.html. See also UNICEF, At a Glance: Turkey, [cited June 27, 2005]; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/Turkey.html.

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