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Jordanian Labor Watch calls for addressing poverty to reduce child labor in Jordan

The Jordanian Labor Watch has called for addressing poverty by reconsidering the “unfair” economic policies that have been applied and are still applied in Jordan for decades in order to reduce the phenomenon of child labor in Jordan.

The Jordanian Labor Watch said that all efforts to curb the phenomenon of child labor in Jordan have focused only on detecting cases of child labor in the labor market and penalizing employers who employ them, while these efforts have not targeted the real causes that lead to the increase in child labor, namely poverty and unemployment.

This came in a specialized position paper issued by the Jordanian Labor Watch of the Phenix Center for Economic and Information Studies on Tuesday, on the occasion of the International Day Against Child Labor, which falls on June 12 of each year.

The Jordanian Labor Watch indicated that poverty rates in Jordan have increased from 15.7% to 24% over the past ten years, in addition to the high unemployment rates, which have reached very high levels compared to historical unemployment rates in Jordan and their rates in most countries of the world, as they were before the Corona pandemic (19.2%) and reached during the first quarter of 2024 (21.4%).

The Jordanian Labor Watch pointed out that most working children belong to poor families, which prompted many families to take their children out of school and push them to work in an environment that exploits their poverty, with the aim of contributing to providing additional income to help them meet their basic needs.

The Jordanian Labor Watch explained that the Jordanian Labor Law prohibits the employment of those under the age of 16 years in any form and also prohibits the employment of children between the ages of 16 and 18 years in hazardous work, but reality says otherwise. According to the latest available statistics in Jordan for 2016 prepared by the International Labor Organization in cooperation with the Department of Statistics and the Ministry of Labor, about 75,000 children in Jordan are involved in child labor, of which about 45,000 work in hazardous occupations.

The Jordanian Labor Watch expected that this number has increased significantly as a result of the high rates of poverty and unemployment, in addition to other reasons related to the decline in social justice indicators, which resulted mainly from the implementation of economic policies that did not take into account the social consequences and effects of these policies, which focused during the past decades on liberalizing the national economy and continuing to implement unfair fiscal and tax policies, where the expansion of indirect taxes strained the purchasing power of many families.

The low levels of wages and the fact that they remained unchanged in the face of rising inflation rates (prices of goods and services) led to a decline in the living standards of large segments of families, according to the Jordanian Labor Watch.

In addition, the school environment in many schools, especially government schools, is still unattractive to large segments of students, which encourages them to withdraw from school and join the labor market.

The Jordanian Labor Watch pointed out that child labor has many negative effects on them, such as physical, social, and educational effects. Many children work in unhealthy environmental conditions that negatively affect their health directly, and they may be exposed to many risks during their work, such as children working in chemical factories or auto mechanic workshops where they are exposed to harmful chemicals and the danger of dealing with mechanical and electrical machinery, in addition to child street vendors who are constantly exposed to car accidents.

Children’s involvement in the labor market and staying out of their homes for long periods of time allows them to interact with different types of society, which may lead them to learn some bad behaviors such as smoking and the use of foul language, as well as making it easier to lure, harass, and sexually exploit them.

In addition, children who work have either dropped out of school or are working after leaving school, or they may not have entered school at all and did not receive any education, and in all cases, the negative impact of work on children’s education stands out, so child labor may lead to an increase in the illiteracy rate.

The Jordanian Labor Watch recommended the need to address the real causes of child labor, namely poverty and unemployment, in addition to reconsidering tax policies that have expanded indirect taxation and strained the purchasing power of citizens.

The Jordanian Labor Watch stressed the need to develop the social protection system so that it becomes fair and provides a decent life for all, especially the poor, and to reconsider wage levels in order to raise them in line with the standard of living in Jordan, in addition to developing the educational process during the basic stage to reduce the number of children dropping out of school.

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