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The story of Kurdistan’s Street-Working Children

The story of Kurdistan’s Street-Working Children


Peregraf- Sangar Salar

In the hottest or coldest weather of the year, from dusk till dawn, Mohammad takes to the streets, knocks on car windows with the hope that drivers will buy a packet of packet tissues.

Mohammad, 11, has left school three years ago in grade 3, aiming to be the breadwinner for his family. Ever since, he has been selling packet tissues in the main streets of Sulaymaniyah.

"My daily profit is between 5000 to 10000 Iraqi Dinar (4-8$)," Mohammad told Peregraf. With this money, he helps his father to feed the whole family as the latter is a workman and his salary is very low. He also helps his two younger sisters who are still studying at school.

"I have worked in the coldest and hottest weathers. At times, I was about to lose consciousness or freeze. Sometimes, the cars are close enough to hit me or the drivers insult me."

Mohammad is aware that what he is doing is difficult and is not appropriate for his age. However, he is compelled to do so. Even then, he still cannot attain his smallest dream, "I really like a smartphone, but I haven’t been able to buy it so far." He also said that he wished to be at school playing with his classmates.

These grievances from Mohammad is simultaneous to the International Children's Day, where every 1st of June, children celebrate this day with many events. However, this day for Mohammad and other street-working children mean nothing.

Hardi, aged 8, another street-working child, is a student in grade 2. He sells cold water in Sulaymaniyah’s Saholaka Street at night during the month of Ramadan.

"I work for the sake of my family. I give to my father what I earn and he also gives me back some. My father is poor so he needs me to work," Hardi’s words sounded to that of a more mature person, "I make around 5000 IQD per night."

Hardi’s family lives in Chamchamal, some 70 kilometres to the west of Sulaymaniyah. After the summer break, he left his family to go to his uncle’s house in Sulaymaniyah. Together they work during the night in Saholaka.

"I wish I were from a rich family so that I did not have to work, instead I would be able to watch TV and play games," Hardi told Peregraf.

From the beginning of this year, 116 child workers have forcibly been taken back to their families, according to the statistics from the Kurdistan Save the Children organization. Moreover, in 2018, 400 children were taken back to their families and the organization financially helped 60 of the families once so that they do not send their children to work.

Ali Ibrahim, the supervisor of the Child Protection Committee from the Kurdistan Save the Children organization, asks the Kurdistan Region Government’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs to observe all the working places where children are working, if there’s a violation they have to take legal actions towards the business owner.

He stresses that the ministry should have a long-term strategic plan to face the problem of child labor, "Children working is related to the family’s income, education and many other factors. If you want to stop children from working, you need to have a developed education plan, and financially support those families who, due to poverty are compelled to send their children to work in the streets."

A large percentage of those children who work in Sulaymaniyah’s streets are from other parts of Iraq, or refugees from Rojava (Syrian part of Kurdistan).

Ali is only 8 years old. He is from the city of Raqqa in Syria, and his family has left home due to war; the same war that has turned Ali from student to beggar.

"I used to study in grade 2, I didn’t pass, I’m begging because we are poor," Ali told Peregraf, as he stays until midnight in Sulaymaniyah’s main street asking people for some money.

According to Iraqi Labor Law, anyone is eligible to work from the age of 15 for 7 hours per day, with the condition that the work should not be difficult, and not cause any harm to the person’s moral, behavior and education. Children under the age of 17 must not be working at night time, according to the same law.

Omar Golpi, the General Directorate of Civil Observation and Development in Sulaymaniyah told Peregraf that all the street-working children do not necessarily work due to poverty, "Many of them are working as they believe that everyone should learn to work from childhood itself so that they become independent when they grow up."

He states that the government does not give considerable attention to children’s issues. He recommends extending the duration of school time so that children are not sent to work after class hours. He also suggests the enforcement of a law which will guarantee the protection of children’s rights.

In previous years, Kurdistan’s Parliament had a bill named Social which had a section dedicated to children’s rights. However, the Parliament could not pass the bill.

Kajal Hadi Faqe, a former MP and a member of the Family, Children and Social Affairs Committee, elaborates to Peregraf that all issues related to children’s rights were in the bill, including: supporting children in education, protecting children’s rights, provide job opportunities to those who are eligible to work, "The bill has been suspended with the justification that it needs a special budget."


In the new Kurdistan Parliament, this committee has been combined with Human Rights committee and no longer contains the "Children" term in the title.

Badria Ismail, the rapporteur of Social Affairs, Protection of Women's Rights, and Human Rights in Kurdistan Parliament told Peragraf "We do our best to protect children’s rights. We will conduct three open meetings on all the three parts [social, women and human], there’s the opportunity in all the parts to work on children’s issues, and we have discussed this issue with some organizations."

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The story of Kurdistan’s Street-Working Children

2019-06-02 14:20:43


Peregraf- Sangar Salar

In the hottest or coldest weather of the year, from dusk till dawn, Mohammad takes to the streets, knocks on car windows with the hope that drivers will buy a packet of packet tissues.

Mohammad, 11, has left school three years ago in grade 3, aiming to be the breadwinner for his family. Ever since, he has been selling packet tissues in the main streets of Sulaymaniyah.

"My daily profit is between 5000 to 10000 Iraqi Dinar (4-8$)," Mohammad told Peregraf. With this money, he helps his father to feed the whole family as the latter is a workman and his salary is very low. He also helps his two younger sisters who are still studying at school.

"I have worked in the coldest and hottest weathers. At times, I was about to lose consciousness or freeze. Sometimes, the cars are close enough to hit me or the drivers insult me."

Mohammad is aware that what he is doing is difficult and is not appropriate for his age. However, he is compelled to do so. Even then, he still cannot attain his smallest dream, "I really like a smartphone, but I haven’t been able to buy it so far." He also said that he wished to be at school playing with his classmates.

These grievances from Mohammad is simultaneous to the International Children's Day, where every 1st of June, children celebrate this day with many events. However, this day for Mohammad and other street-working children mean nothing.

Hardi, aged 8, another street-working child, is a student in grade 2. He sells cold water in Sulaymaniyah’s Saholaka Street at night during the month of Ramadan.

"I work for the sake of my family. I give to my father what I earn and he also gives me back some. My father is poor so he needs me to work," Hardi’s words sounded to that of a more mature person, "I make around 5000 IQD per night."

Hardi’s family lives in Chamchamal, some 70 kilometres to the west of Sulaymaniyah. After the summer break, he left his family to go to his uncle’s house in Sulaymaniyah. Together they work during the night in Saholaka.

"I wish I were from a rich family so that I did not have to work, instead I would be able to watch TV and play games," Hardi told Peregraf.

From the beginning of this year, 116 child workers have forcibly been taken back to their families, according to the statistics from the Kurdistan Save the Children organization. Moreover, in 2018, 400 children were taken back to their families and the organization financially helped 60 of the families once so that they do not send their children to work.

Ali Ibrahim, the supervisor of the Child Protection Committee from the Kurdistan Save the Children organization, asks the Kurdistan Region Government’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs to observe all the working places where children are working, if there’s a violation they have to take legal actions towards the business owner.

He stresses that the ministry should have a long-term strategic plan to face the problem of child labor, "Children working is related to the family’s income, education and many other factors. If you want to stop children from working, you need to have a developed education plan, and financially support those families who, due to poverty are compelled to send their children to work in the streets."

A large percentage of those children who work in Sulaymaniyah’s streets are from other parts of Iraq, or refugees from Rojava (Syrian part of Kurdistan).

Ali is only 8 years old. He is from the city of Raqqa in Syria, and his family has left home due to war; the same war that has turned Ali from student to beggar.

"I used to study in grade 2, I didn’t pass, I’m begging because we are poor," Ali told Peregraf, as he stays until midnight in Sulaymaniyah’s main street asking people for some money.

According to Iraqi Labor Law, anyone is eligible to work from the age of 15 for 7 hours per day, with the condition that the work should not be difficult, and not cause any harm to the person’s moral, behavior and education. Children under the age of 17 must not be working at night time, according to the same law.

Omar Golpi, the General Directorate of Civil Observation and Development in Sulaymaniyah told Peregraf that all the street-working children do not necessarily work due to poverty, "Many of them are working as they believe that everyone should learn to work from childhood itself so that they become independent when they grow up."

He states that the government does not give considerable attention to children’s issues. He recommends extending the duration of school time so that children are not sent to work after class hours. He also suggests the enforcement of a law which will guarantee the protection of children’s rights.

In previous years, Kurdistan’s Parliament had a bill named Social which had a section dedicated to children’s rights. However, the Parliament could not pass the bill.

Kajal Hadi Faqe, a former MP and a member of the Family, Children and Social Affairs Committee, elaborates to Peregraf that all issues related to children’s rights were in the bill, including: supporting children in education, protecting children’s rights, provide job opportunities to those who are eligible to work, "The bill has been suspended with the justification that it needs a special budget."


In the new Kurdistan Parliament, this committee has been combined with Human Rights committee and no longer contains the "Children" term in the title.

Badria Ismail, the rapporteur of Social Affairs, Protection of Women's Rights, and Human Rights in Kurdistan Parliament told Peragraf "We do our best to protect children’s rights. We will conduct three open meetings on all the three parts [social, women and human], there’s the opportunity in all the parts to work on children’s issues, and we have discussed this issue with some organizations."