Child Labor: Causes and Consequences [Archives:2001/38/Culture]

September 17 2001

Saleh Abdulbaqi
Cultural Editor
Yemen Times
The children’s issue is a tangled social issue as a result of the deteriorating social and economical crises and the extreme poverty prevailing in our society. Children Cultural and Social Studies indicate that there is a clear deficiency in child care due to many reasons, of which illiteracy is the most outstanding. Illiteracy of parents and of society in general obviously has a strong impact on children. Premature awareness to child’s needs whether material including food, clothes, medicine and toys or moral including going out to parks, organizing trips, encouragement, etc. The restricted atmosphere in which children live may lead them to grasp at the nearest chance to revolt against their parents. They may take to streets and fall in bad company. They may take to begging which is a very negative phenomenon on the increase. Others are forced by hard economic conditions of their families to work leading them to quit schools. The work performed by children in cities varies widely. Some work in cleaning car windshields at intersections; some work as street vendors of many goods and articles like newspapers, water, home supplies, cassettes, fruits and vegetables, etc. Some work as waiters in restaurants, in mechanic or carpentry workshops, as collectors of fares in buses, and some work as beggars or in building construction. Studies pertaining to the legal analysis for children indicated that legislation, regulations and rules derived from the Islamic instructions have ensured a good atmosphere for children, though there is a gap between the rhetoric of these legislation and reality. A number of children are locked in prisons without any legal warrants. Others are subjected to assault, violence and sexual harassment as they are locked in with prisoners of old age.
Most of the perverted children who take to thefts, adultery or gangs are attributed to many economic, psychological and educational reasons. The separate family, deprivation of children, and children’s falling in bad companies can be the breeding ground for the perversion of children. Besides, the clear deficiency of policies in dealing with juveniles’ training and qualification has increased perversion inclinations in these sections of the society. Studies also indicate that there is a clear deficiency in health care for this section.
It is also found that some kids get fed up with schools, with the boring syllabi and way of presenting them to students, mainly because of unqualified teachers. In addition, children feel unable to afford all school tuition fees, increasing continuously. Therefore, they drop out of schools and start looking for a better alternative. The absence of the policy of a compulsory education, at least basic education, aggravates the situation. Besides, the rising number of jobless university graduates, mainly qualified, make most people come to believe, therefore, that education is no longer of economic value as it doesn’t render employment. The begging phenomenon has been the focus of most of the research conducted in the past few years. Studies confirm that the phenomenon is very much related to poverty. Children may be liable to many dangers especially if they are females. Begging also creates another burden on unemployment. Studies also indicate that economic and social hardships leading children to beg can be contemporary. However, this easy money-earning job creates in them and their families the desire to continue.
Studies conducted on child labor are too many. Child labor is very associated with poverty and the low standard of living. School drop-outs have made the situation worse.
By and large, to limit this ever increasing phenomenon in Yemen, economic measures to raise and develop the individual income are a must and should be given priority over all other issues to achieve an overall development for the local communities. Measures should also be taken to relieve the unemployment rate, ensuring free education for children, especially in the basic education levels. Students dropping out of schools should be studied carefully and the problem tackled. Females should be encouraged to join schools. Divorce and parents’ separation should be solved to ensure a conducive atmosphere for a stable childhood in Yemen .