While many of her peers were enjoying summer vacation, 13-year-old Afiye was picking eggplants under a scorching sun in the fields of southern Turkey’s Adana Province.
Afiye has been working in agriculture since she was 11 to augment her family’s income, and dropped out after completing elementary school. For a 10-hour workday, she is paid 30 lira ($16.50). Four of her six siblings also work in the fields.
While Turkey may rank as Europe’s fastest growing economy, expanding by 8.5-percent in 2011, many Turkish children, and their families, are watching the boom from the sidelines. At 23.5 percent, the country has one of the highest rates of child poverty among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.
Official data from 2007, the most recent year available, estimates that almost 1 million children between the ages of six and 17 years old work on a regular basis in Turkey. But the exact number is hard to come by. Turkey still lacks an effective monitoring system for child labor, and many of the employers are unregistered.
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