“The reason there is so much more child labour is due to the kinds of conditions in which Iraqis in poverty live,” says Abdul Zahra al-Hindawi, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Planning. Almost a quarter of Iraqi families live in poverty, he adds.
The Ministry has drawn up plans to try and reduce poverty and child labour, al-Hindawi notes.
Iraq’s Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is also trying to work out how to prevent children under 15 from working. “A special team has been formed to eradicate this phenomenon and among other measures, they have identified certain areas where children are more likely to be working,” a spokesperson for the Ministry, Ammar Menem Ali, told NIQASH.
Taha Mahmoud, who heads this special division, says that firstly employers are given a warning. Then if there is noncompliance, they are taken to the labour courts who issue verdicts against them.
The Ministry of the Interior also has community policing teams working to fight to prevent underage workers, even though they take a slightly more relaxed attitude.
“The ministry teams are working in stages on this file,” says Khaled al-Muhanna, who heads the community police department. “Sometimes children of a certain age are allowed to work because they help solve the problems of poverty in Iraq. But the ministry’s teams certainly penalize the employers who operate hazardous workplaces and employ minors. Sometimes our teams take custody of the children whose parents have allowed them to do such dangerous work.”
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