Children in the province of Adana as young as 11 are being put to work in clothing factories for long hours, low wages and around chemicals that are specifically labeled to not be sold or given to children, according to a report in the Ekmek ve Gül news portal on Wednesday.
11-year-old Cemil and 12-year-old Abdo are two child workers that spoke with reporter Volkan Pekal in Adana. Both are refugee children who do not speak Turkish, and are thus unable to read the warning signs on the chemical materials that they use in clothing factories where they assemble shoes and fasten leather material.
The children are working in the heart of historic Adana, unable to attend school due to language barriers and the economic difficulties faced by their families. Each child earns just 150 TL a week for working 12 hour days, in facilities that do not allow for proper ventilation of the solvent chemicals they use in their work.
Cemil’s father sells cigarettes, while his older brother works and a younger sibling attends school. He gives the majority of the money he earns to his father, keeping just a small amount for himself. Abdo has three younger siblings attending school but says he does not want to as he has difficulties with the language.
As Turkey has accepted 3.5 million refugees from Syria, thousands of children have been forced to work in cities across the country, often exploited by employers who pay them well under the minimum wage as they are not legally registered to work. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian children living in Turkey do not attend school, while the majority of the Syrians who have sought refuge in Turkey live in poverty,