Child Labourers and the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression

Today, 4 June, marks the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression. No child should be forced to work, yet child labour is all too prevalent in the garment industry. This situation is often exacerbated by war and conflict.

The Syrian war has had a significant impact on children with many ending up in neighbouring Turkey. Of the 3.5 million Syrian refugees registered in Turkey, around 1.1 million are school-aged children. Child victims of war are often forced to work to support their families. Despite efforts of the Turkish government and the international community in providing substantial aid, stakeholders in Turkey have reported a sharp increase in child labour since the arrival of Syrian refugees.

One of Fair Wear Foundation’s labour standards is no exploitation of child labour. When child labour is found in a garment factory from which a FWF member brand sources, FWF together with the brand takes the steps needed to assist child labourers. It is important that the brands continue to work with the factory and not pull their business away. This reaction could have disastrous effects on the factory and the children. Together, the brand and FWF ensure that the child returns to school and that the family receives financial compensation for lost wages.

Additionally, FWF works with its Turkish stakeholders to address issues faced by Syrian refugee workers in the garment industry. FWF informs its brands and suppliers on specific risks and offers guidance by holding webinars and roundtables to further their understanding on procedures such as accessing work permits. FWF also provides a local complaints helpline in Arabic for workers with concerns and those wishing to report violations.

For more information, see FWF’s Guidance for Members: Risks related to Turkish garment factories employing Syrian refugees and the FWF child labour policy. Stay tuned for an upcoming detailed report about the labour situation of Syrian refugees in Turkey.