"Penalizing families who make their children work is only meaningful as a complement to other efforts," says Abdullah Karatay
, head of the Istanbul branch of the Social Workers Association
Karatay explained to Bianet that the Istanbul Governorate applies penalties to families that make their children work, and argued that excessive and ineffective fines were being issued.
There is not a legal judgment that directly forbids families' making their children work or giving them permission to do so Karatay says. The decision is made by the governorate with the goal of preventing families from exploiting their children.
Karatay explained that judges and district attorneys had decided to apply penalties by adapting the Misdemeanors Law, which "includes crimes like disobeying provincial decrees and dirtying the enviroment. With this law, penalties will be directly applied to families who make their children work. There is no court process for the application of penalties."
Karatay, stressing that in a social welfare state, it is important to provide services and help in addition to using penalties, argued that it was necessary take another perspective into account. He said, "Poverty is the explanation for the issue of street children being forced to work, just as it is the social basis for crime and negligence.
The thing that needs to be made clear is that the issue of working children is related to poverty. Only applying penalties is not consistent with the role of a social state."
"A systematic and productive approach is needed"
Karatay explained that meeting first with the mother and father of a child, determining the nature of the situation, and providing compensatory solutions to the causes that compel the child to work, would be a more legitimate as a way of dealing with the problem.
He emphasized that "a systematic and productive approach" is necessary for a solution to the problem, and said that civil society organizations and the press should play a big role in the development of consciousness on this issue.
Karatay stated, "the problem of working children is generally perceived as a street children problem and expressed as such. The problem of children working in the street is also a problem hidden in families. That is, it's an issue of impoverished families."
Karatay, pointing out that children also work in closed spaces, emphasized that it was necessary for local studies of a municipal scope to be done on this issue and said that the job of determining the situation of children who work or are forced to work also fell to the Labor Ministry. (NG/EA/YE)