Child Labor in Yemen

National Yemen

A Yemeni child working

By: NY Staff

As the general situation in Yemen deteriorates, more children find themselves forced to drop-out of schools and go to streets to earn income for their family.

Thoughts on how to keep children off the streets in Yemen vary widely. While some families force their children to work due to the difficult financial situations they have, others force their children to work though they simply believe school is a waste of time.  According to the latter group, working will at least provide them with practical experience that will give them the skills needed to avoid working in the streets.

On the opposite end, a number of families believe that children should be studying rather than working. Such families believe that children have the right to spend their childhood in things such as sport clubs and summer courses will also help them gain important skills to avoid the streets.

International laws have weighed in on this matter and have banned child labor. These laws generally focus on work that does not fit the age and abilities of a child. Despite these efforts, governments in developing countries are used to breaking the rules and haven’t fully banned child labor in their countries. Yemen is similar because families often push their children to work during the summer holidays for social and economic factors.

The effects of the weak enforcement of child labor can have disastrous impacts on children who are subjected to physical, moral and psychological stress from working in the streets. Physically, children grow up slimmer and weaker than their peers. Psychologically, they lose self-esteem and are subject to sexual abuse. Because of these factors, they lose their confidence, and rescind to their fate.

Yet, not all children who work are upset with their conditions. Some children say that they are content with their work because they believe it provides them with the chance to make money. Salem, a 12-year-old boy who works at a vegetable shop says that his work provides him with good circumstances and is kept away from the heat of the sun. “I consider myself luckier than other children who are forced to work under the hot sun. Also, the daily wage I get is enough for me,” he stated.

Another boy called Emad agrees with Salem and says that he became used to work in such places and provide him with good chances to get money. He added that the money he gets from working is enough for him and his family as well. “ I reached the third grade and did not want to waste my time in silly things like watching T.V and playing,” he continued, “so I thought it would be better to find a suitable job especially that I like to depend on myself.”

In other cases, children personally decided to leave school and work to earn money for themselves and “not to waste time in vain.” Ahmed, 14 years old says he works in a shop and transfers goods from one place to another. “I finish my duty after long hours of hard work and go back home feeling so tired and fatigue but I like it as I get a good amount of money per day that amounts to 3000 YR,” he stated.

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