Since many years, child labor has been a serious problem that a lot of organizations were trying to deal with. In fact Lebanon is one of the countries suffering from this issue, especially in poor surroundings of the main cities and in rural districts. According to Kofi Annan(1999), “Child labor has serious consequences that stay with the individual and the society for far longer than the years of childhood.” Young not only face dangerous work conditions. They face long term physical, intellectual and emotional stress. They face an adulthood of unemployment and illiteracy. Few human rights abuses are so widely condemned, yet so widely unnoticed…” For these purposes I’m against child labor, and I think it’s the responsibility of the government to help working children.
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According to UNICEF response to child employment, “Child labor is reported as one of the social problems in Lebanon. There are about 3163 children aged 10-13 years that work in Lebanon, while the number of those looking for work in this age group is 1947. These represent respectively 1.2% and 0.7% of the total population in that age group. On the other hand, there are 28786 working children aged 14-17 years and 9525 of that same age group looking for work, representing 10.9% and 3.6% respectively of children in that age group. The region of North Lebanon has the highest proportion of working children with respect to the two age groups 10-13 years and 14-17 years. It is followed by the region of Mount Lebanon, then Beirut, Beqaa and the South. Overall, the districts of Tripoli, Minyeh, Akkar, Baabda, Baalbeck, Zahleh, Saida and Tyre have about 80% of working children aged 10-13 years. In the North, working children are found mostly in the districts of Tripoli, Akkar and Minyeh (91-97% of working children in this region). In the region of Mount Lebanon, the districts of Baabda and Metn have the highest proportion of working children. More specifically, the poor urban neighborhoods of Bab Tebbaneh in Tripoli, Bourj Barajneh in Baabda and Bourj Hammoud in Metn are the worst affected areas in these districts.”(UNICEF, 2008, p.1-2)
Many children are working 6 days a week and more than 10 hours a day in hard fields especially like agriculture. According to ILO(International Labor Organization office in Beirut): “Children are working hard for price of 7 dollars a week sometimes which is unfair”. Employer s are interested in hiring teenagers and children under eighteen because they are cheaper especially when their profit are less than expected. Employer does not care about the feelings of the young youths they, keep mistreating them by giving them choirs they cannot handle. Walid a young child living in Tarik al jdideh (Beirut), is a ten year old boy working in a garage. Walid works from 8 am till 6 pm fixing cars and get paid 10 dollars per week. Walid is always complaining of the hard work he is supposed to handle, and from the maltreatment of his boss. Walid is one proof that working children are suffering in Lebanon. Most of these kids are boys, maltreated in several cities and villages in Lebanon whereas they are forced to carry heavy loads, handle chemicals, marble cutting, selling items on roads under bad circumstances and in farms where they are exposed to pesticides. Children laboring in gardening may also be constrained to assemble tobacco, sugar cane, and other crops where they will be subjected to equally harmful conditions. Moreover, kids are obliged to use dangerous machinery, handle toxic chemicals without protective gear; they are also confronting sexual abuse or slavery, especially girls that are sold from their parents to earn extra money. Most of these kids are working in very bad conditions affecting their health, living differently from a normal kid and risking their future. Racha is a good example of a teenager who was forced to depart from her house in the village to work as a housemaid in the industrialized Aley district. Rasha had been raped by the man in the house after several temptations made by him. Sexual abuse of working boys and girls is a crime that will probably destroy the life of the young youths. (Alami, 2007, p.1-2)
Many children are dropping out from school and leaving their education in order to work and give money for their parents. The learning level of laboring kids is too small comparing to the learning level of the labor force in all areas in Lebanon. “The percentage of uneducated worker in the labor force in Lebanon is about 49%, this percentage is 95% concerning children working aged between 10 and 13 years and 84% of those age between 14 and 17 years”. (UNICEF, 2008). Yusuf a 12 years old guy who works now in agriculture, is a good example of many kids who left school early and started working. It is the right of the children to get education and go to school instead of that they are facing problems that pushes them to leave school and start working. Many young kids lose their ambitions in order to work and help their fathers. It is unfair for children to drop out from school as their future will be ruined, they will have to work the same work they are working today not having a bachelor degree they won’t be able to go further in their lives. It is also unfair for them to miss all the joy of the school days. School days are the best days of a child life as he meets friends in school, develop relations, and learn how to interact with others. School is a basic time needed by the children before getting to the large world of work. (Alami, 2007, p. 2-3)
Somehow child labor has a big influence on the society. When the number of working children increases the number of non educated adults will increase, children will be the future of the societies. A society of non educated society is a rural society where people have no respect for each other. You can see that these kinds of societies are the societies where more problems happen, where no one understand the other, and where the neighbor kill his neighbor. As we said before the number of working children is bigger in rural countries of Lebanon like Tripoli, and Bekaa, effectively these are two countries that are full of problems as we see on the news every day. Problems always happen in Tripoli between the people living there; in the Bekaa also car steeling and crimes are very often. Education pushes the society to a higher level, and since education is absent between young working kids their society will be on a lower level than others. Poor societies are societies where most kids start working early. Such societies will always be poor as no one will get educated enough to get a suitable job. So a main problem of the poor societies in Lebanon is child labor. (Schmitz & Traver & Larson, 2004)
The opposing point of view is the one of the parents of the children and the employers who hires children. Parents when in need oblige their kids to go and get a job in order to make money. Some parents think that their oldest son should leave everything and go to work to help his brothers and sisters. This is common in most Lebanese areas as we see in most families the older son suffers from lack of education. These parents also think that their children are born to serve them and to help them get money to live more comfortably. Some parents that they were also working in very early ages of their life would let their children work in purpose that they will be stronger and more experienced and might be able to easily go over hard situations they may face in the future. Other parents might sell their daughters by saying that they will get married sooner or later so why don’t they sell them and earn high revenue of money. Employers also say that they are hiring children who came freely to get work and they are not doing something wrong so they can profit of the low salary these children get which make the cost of the products less and they will be in fewer prices in the market so all the people will also profit. We can see that most restaurants in Lebanon hire young boys for the delivery choirs for example and for serving clients etcâ€¦
Personally I think it’s very wrong for the parents to let their kids work at young age especially if they work under the supervision of abusing bosses. Kids are suffering in their work as they work in dangerous chemicals and pesticides. Kids have the rights to learn and live their childhood happily and safely. Some employers are criminals because they abuse children; such employers should be caught and arrested because of their actions against children who are so weak to say no or to protest against their parents and bosses.
Finally Child labor is a wide problem that should be regulated especially in Lebanon. Children are suffering in their work, dropping out from school early, and infecting the whole society. I think government should work on reducing the number of working children, and to control the hours of work and the salaries. By fixing these issues working children will have better work situation, better opportunities by going to school, having normal life like every teenager should get. It is their right to learn so they can become successful persons in their societies.