INTRODUCTION This document comprises the first national attempt that concerned with protecting working children, aimed at becoming a reference national document that specifies methods of dealing with child labor cases, and the roles and responsibilities that various parties should adopt in order to provide services to working children and their families in a comprehensive and sustained manner with the aim of protecting children from being involved in work, and bring them back to their natural place in school.
Results of the child labor survey carried out in 2007 by the Department of Statistics and the International Labor Organization indicate that the number of working children in the Kingdom is about 33,190 children, between 5 and 17 years of age. This number is considered very low in comparison with other developing countries similar to Jordan in income levels. The study also indicated that employment levels are very low among children less than 12 years of age. Female child labor is considered a very rare phenomenon.
Chapter one addresses the general background of the national framework through a description of the international and national contexts of the child labor problem, and its ramifications on the child and society. It summarizes all national initiatives, strategies, policies and plans that addressed the issues of working children. The chapter also outlined the present situation in the ministries in dealing with working children.
Chapter two presents all terms related to the child, including a unified national definition for child labor that was adopted by the National Committee for Child Labor and the technical teams of the National Framework, defining co-working children, to create a general consensus and common language among all those working in this field, the includes all types of child labor regardless of legal affiliation.
Chapter three deals with protection against child labor and its importance as an integral part of the integrated system for protecting children from work. It clarifies proposed roles for relevant parties. This chapter also concentrates on societal awareness programs and their importance in improving programs aimed at combating child labor.
Chapter four outlines the response for combating child labor through education that was designed within the framework, in its four stages, starting from detection and reporting, and ending with evaluation of the intervention process. It focuses on the activities that require joint work, through consultation meetings during the intervention stage, for the purpose of fulfilling the integration principle in providing service for the child and his family, and asserting that the child has the opportunity to complete his education. in addition to the case evaluation meeting to make sure the intervention process was successful. It clarifies the roles of relevant parties and presents practical recommendations for the ministries to push ahead with the framework implementation.
Chapter five emphasizes the importance of monitoring and evaluation of the success of any plan or national policy, which requires work to prepare periodic reports on work progress, and the presence of a coordination body that works at monitoring the roles.
Chapter six presents the results of piloting the National Framework to combat Child Labor, which was carried out in the field in a number of governorates in the Kingdom, in cooperation with relevant parties, for the purpose of arriving at the best case scenario for communication principles and for clarifying the relations among different ministries and the basis for dealing with them.
Among the roles and responsibilities of the National Council for Family Affairs is to contribute to guaranteeing a better life for Jordanian families through a national vision that support the country's development policies and enables the family to attain its optimal aspirations.. The Council, through the multidisciplinary approach it applies, re-formed the National Committee for Child Labor in cooperation with the Ministry of Labor, and formed a technical team from members who represent parties involved in child labor issues, in order to benefit from national expertise in this field. They were consulted in order to draft the most appropriate scenario to provide services for working children and their families, after that it was presented to the National Committee for Child Labor for endorsement. This national effort came as part of the program to Combat Exploitive Child Labor through Education with support from the US Department of Labor USDOL.
CHILD LABOR The Problem of Child Labor
Families, since the dawn of history, depended on children to perform a number of functions, inside and outside the home, including agriculture and family chores. In addition, this kind of assistance was considered by the parents as some sort of training for the child, to help him shoulder the responsibility, and the ability to carry out economic activities. Voluntary work that does not form any negative effects on the child's mental and physical development, especially when a child performs it with desire and enjoyment, are referred to as "positive child labor".
Child labor, in its negative sense, is the type of work that places heavy loads on the child, exploiting him for economic purposes, which leads to threatening his safety, health and well-being. The child labor phenomenon is considered an international one that started to spread and expand recently, leaving negative effects on the child in specific, and on the family and society in general. The phenomenon of child labor is multi-dimensional and represents a very complex challenge. It varies from one country to another, but it is more prevalent in poor and underdeveloped countries. Developed countries, however, do suffer from it as well.
International interest in the rights of the child started with the International Declaration of Human Rights in 1957, whereby the Declaration stipulated the need to guarantee the protection of children from all types of negligence, cruelty and exploitation, that children are not exposed to trafficking in any way, that they are not employed before reaching an adequate age, and that children are not allowed to take a job or a handicraft that harms their health or hinders their education, or affect their physical, mental or moral development.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child CRC, issued in 1989 also stipulated the need to seek child protection from economic exploitation and from performing any work that may be hazardous or hinders his education, or harms his health, physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. The United Nations General Assembly compelled its member states to take the legislative, administrative, social and educational steps that guarantee this protection, especially setting a minimum age limit for undertaking work, and an appropriate system for work hours and circumstances, as well as imposing adequate penalties to guarantee the effectiveness of implementing these texts.
A number of studies carried out in Jordan, the region and the world showed that there are a number of reasons for the spreading of the child labor phenomenon. Such reasons are numerous, overlapping, interwoven and interconnected, which makes it very difficult to find solutions for this problem. Following are the main reasons that lead to child labor:
The economic reason, which includes poverty, high unemployment rates and low standard of living. Many children resort to the labor market in order to increase the family income, or as a result of the family's inability to spend on the child, especially in prevailing economic conditions. The Economic, Social and Health Indicators of Child Labor in Jordan Study1 indicates that 65% of the study sample (working children) contribute to the family income, and 35% of children spend the money they earn on their personal expenses.
The second reason for the spread of child labor is the educational problem, mainly dropping from school. This is sometimes due to the absence of school monitoring when the child dropout school for a long period of time- although the education is mandatory, school violence, lack of desire to study, and poor records. In the Economic, Social and Health Indicators of Child Labor in Jordan 2011 study, 52% of working children indicated that the main reason for joining the labor market is to help their families financially, and 28% said it was due to their lack of interest to complete their studies, while 17% mentioned their interest in learning a profession as a reason, and 3% mentioned other reasons.
The third reason is social problems, most important of which being family disintegration, large family size, and limited family levels of education, whereby the family does not perceive the importance and benefit of education for the child. The result of the Economic, Social and Health Indicators of Child Labor in Jordan Study for 2011 also showed that 76% of working children belong to families of 6-10 members, and that 96% of mothers of children do not practice any profession. 4% of mothers work in simple jobs that are suitable for their levels of education. Such jobs include cleaning, messengers, and simple administrative jobs.
The fourth reason is connected to work owners, who employ children due to their low wages, and the absence of the need to adhere to obligations such as health insurance, social security and providing adequate work conditions and terms for them. The Survey indicates that 56% of working children have a monthly income of less than JD100, while 94% receive wages that are less than to minimum wage requirement of JD150.2
Consequenses from Child Labor
The child labor problem is a complicated and ramified one, which affects and is affected by all areas related to the child, including economic, social, health and educational areas, and such results are sometimes negative and destructive to the child, and therefore to his family.
There are four areas where the child is affected as a result of joining the labor market at an early age. These are:
Physical Development and Growth: A child's health is affected by the work's nature and environment, due to hazards that may hinder his growth. The physical side of the working child will be affected negatively as a result of his work. Work-related injuries and the resulting dangers may affect his health and damage his physical growth, in the absence of proper care. There are hazards, for example, connected to falling down from high places, or being exposed to cuts and bruises, or to hazardous gases.
Knowledge Development: A child's development of knowledge is affected when he drops school and joins the labor market, through which his abilities to read and write being affected, resulting in low educational records and reducing his future abilities to improve his knowledge development.
Emotional Development: A child is affected, as a result of his continued absence from his home for relatively long periods of time, and his exposure to fatigue from work and problems he faces, resulting in slow emotional development.
Social and Moral Development: As a result of the child being away from his family during work in an environment that is alien to him, and his feelings of insecurity, fear from the unknown and inability to interact with the work environment, a child loses the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, which exposes him to exploitation, abuse and violence.
Child Labor Worldwide
The International Labor Organization estimates in its 2006 report that the number of working children between 5 and 17 years of age in the world is about 218 million children in 2004. Asian and Pacific countries are considered among the countries where child labor is most prevalent, with about 122 million working children, followed by the African Sub-Saharan region, with 49.3 million, Latin America and the Caribbean with 5.7 million working children. Children working in agriculture represent 69% of child labor, against 9% only in industry.
The number of children practicing the "worst form of child labor" is estimated by the International Labor Organization sources at 8.4 million. These children work in very difficult conditions, whereby they are compelled to be under debt or other forms of slavery, or indulge in prostitution or profanity, or to participate in armed conflicts or other illegitimate activities.
International Child Labor Agreements which were Ratified by the Government of Jordan
Jordan was among the first countries to sign agreements related to human and child rights, and ILO agreements number 138 and 182 on the minimum age for work, and the prohibition of the worst form of child labor and the immediate measures to eradicate it, which is among the basic eight agreements of the ILO. Since ratification, the government has worked hardly to activate these agreements and the implementionon ground.
Jordan Ratified the Arab Agreement Number One in 1970
Arab Work Agreement Number One for the Year 1966 regarding work levels.
The Agreement stipulates the following:
Article 57: Each country's legislation shall set the fields of work where children from both sexes are not permitted to work in before reaching12 years of age. Children may not be employed in industrial jobs before the age of 15, except for those who are apprentices.
Article 58: Minors below the age of 17 may not be employed in dangerous or hazardous industries specified by legislations, decisions or codes in each country.
Article 59: Daily working hours for minors less than 15 years of age may not exceed six hours, interrupted by one or more rest time, each one hour long, in such a way that the minor does not work more than 4 hours in a row.
Article 60: Minors working on an apprentice contract have the right to a fair wage or an appropriate grant during their apprenticeship.
Article 61: Working hours a minor spends in training during actual working hours are considered part of working hours.
Article 62: Minors may not be assigned any overtime work or employ them in production or in night shifts with the exception of some jobs specified in legislation in each country.
Article 63: Minors should be given a medical exam before they join any work to make sure they are medically fit. They should be re-examined periodically as specified by legislation, decisions and codes in each country.
Article 64: Minors below 17 years of age shall be given an annual leave that is longer than leaves given to adult workers. The country legislation shall specify the additional annual leave. Leave due to minors may not be divided or postponed.
Jordan ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in May 1991
The document issued by the Rights of the Child Convention stipulates, with the consensus and agreement of 191 countries from all over the world, in article 32 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child that: " States Parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child's education, or to be harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.." This applies, by necessity, to each child the age of 17 or less, and protects him from any form of work.
Jordan Ratified the International Labor Organization Convention No. 138 in 1997
This convention aims, at the long term, to fully eradicate child labor. It set a minimum age for work; namely, the completion of compulsory education, considered to be at least 15 years of age. It also prohibited child labor until the age of 18 in work that may expose the minors' health, safety or morals to danger, because of their nature or the conditions in which they are done.
Jordan Ratified the International Labor Organization Convention No. 182 in the Year 2000.
This convention completed convention 138, in that it encouraged the eradication of the worst forms of child labor first, in preparation for complete and total eradication of all types of child labor. This agreement emphasized the importance of free basic education, and the rehabilitation for the working children and and their social incorporation in the society, while caring for their families' requirements.
The term "worst forms of child labor" in the context of this convention includes the following:
all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict;
the use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances;
the use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in the relevant international treaties;
work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.
Countries were compelled to make a list of these practices and to review it periodically. Jordan had joined the International Labor Organization in 1956. It has ratified 24 of the Organization’s conventions, including 7 conventions that represent the basic standards for human rights in work.
Jordan has also ratified the following protocols:
Protocol to Prevent,Suppress and punish traffickinginpersons, especially women and children, supplementing the united states convention against transnational organized crime for the Year 2000.
The optional protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, which was ratified by the United Nations General Assembly in the year 2000.
Status of Child Labor in Jordan
The results of the Child Labor Survey held in 2007 by the Department of Statistics and the International Labor Organization ILO showed that the number of working children in the Kingdom is about 33,190 children between the ages of 5 and 17 years. This number is considered much less if compared with other developing countries similar to Jordan in income levels.3 The study also showed that the average employment is very low among children whose age is less than 12 years. Employment among female children is considered very rare. The Economic, Social and Health Indicators for Child Labor in Jordan Study4 indicated a new pattern of female child labor, which is "home imprisoned children", who are deprived of education because of certain prevailing social habits. Most working children are concentrated in the capital city of Amman, and the governorates of Irbed and Zarqa respectively. The study also showed that the distribution of professions in which children work were car mechanics of different forms, loading and unloading, cleaning, blacksmithing, carpentry and seamstressing.
There is an important indicator that is not directly related to child labor, which is the relation between school dropping and juvenile delinquency. Statistics by the Ministry of Social Development showed that school dropout is basically connected to juvenile delinquency. 3500 cases were studied in 2008, and it was found that 70% of delinquent juveniles are dropouts at the basic level (until 12 years old). There are 700 who are repeaters from the dropout category among juvenile delinquent, who are dropouts from the basic level. 70% of those juveniles committed burglary or harmful misdemeanors.