Poverty & divorce problems aggravate itThe child labour phenomenon in Yemen [Archives:2005/871/Business & Economy]

August 25 2005

Mahyoub Al-Kamaly
There many cases of child labour are aggravating and can be learnt from the children who work in the capital Sana'a or in the Yemeni large cities. This is despite the fact that the government under support from donors is working on investigating into causes and reasons of this phenomenon in an attempt to curb it through program called the strategy of poverty alleviation.

In consequence of many factors, including poverty and rise in cases of divorce in some governorates, the Yemeni society is suffering from worrying phenomena rising to the surface and heralding catastrophic consequences to future of childhood in this country.

An official report on human rights for 2004 has pointed out that the number of children driven to labour market amounts to around 450 thousand children of age categories of 14-16 years representing 9.1% of the Yemeni workforce.

The report has explained that the percentage of females in this phenomenon constitutes 54% out of child workers. Some would perhaps think that this is a universal phenomenon but in reality, Yemen has hit the record in that of the number of working children for various political, economic and social reasons.

A child selling paper tissues packets in streets of the capital Sana'a mentions that after the death of his father the family was forced to carry burdens of daily life and he had found himself and his other brothers forced to leave the countryside for the city in quest of work to earn living to meet our demands necessary for the daily life of the family. He has also added that he has left school after he had finished his primary stage because he did not find money to spend on education expenses.

A female child selling fried eggs says she has chosen to work to provided expenses for her family consisting of five under 10-year age members and that her father was handicapped because of a traffic accident. Another female worker who sells bread in a market says after the death of her father her mother preferred not to re-marry and decided to work in selling bread.

She as the eldest among her brothers and sisters has undertaken to take bread for selling in the market to provide for expenses of the family. There are many stories behind children who were forced to go to labour market varying from loss of the father in either death or incapacity and such other reasons.

Field studies on causes behind the dissemination of this phenomenon mention that economic reasons, such as the increase in poverty rates and rise of unemployment rate among adults are main reasons behind child labour. Some fathers justify work of children for taking part in providing income for the family.

Added to those reasons there is the migration from countryside to cities does aggravate the problem especially that 75% of city inhabitants live in he countryside, which lacks the minimum degree of essential services such as electricity, water, education, health and the like. Studies confirm that ineffectiveness of laws pertaining to protection of childhood is the factors that led to spread of this negative phenomenon and children deprivation of education.

This condition makes them exposed to dangers and psychological pressures by employers. Such pressures would generate problems difficult to solve in future.

The field studies recommend the necessity of curing those phenomena through creation of a climate suitable for child growth and there should be expansion in social welfare and care. They recommend that the government should adopt policies and mechanisms for fighting poverty based on accurate surveying data on budget of the Yemeni family rather than conducting workshops and seminars for defining the volume of the phenomenon without treating it.