Research Article: Prevalence and risk factors for child labour and violence against children in Egypt using Bayesian geospatial modelling with multiple imputation

Date Published: May 30, 2019

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Khaled Khatab, Maruf A. Raheem, Benn Sartorius, Mubarak Ismail, Aisha K. Yousafzai.


The incidence of child labour, especially across developing nations, is of global concern. The use of children in employment in developing economies constitutes a major threat to the societies, and concerted efforts are made by the relevant stakeholders towards addressing some of the factors and issues responsible. Significant risk factors include socio-demographic and economic factors such as poverty, neglect, lack of adequate care, exposure of children to various grades of violence, parental education status, gender, place of residence, household size, residence type or size, wealth index, parental survivorship and household size. Egypt is the largest country in Africa by population. Although UNCIF 2017 reported that the worst forms of child labour in Egypt are concentrated in domestic work, forced begging and commercial sexual exploitation, the situation has received little attention. There are still very few studies initiated specifically to look at child labour in domestic service in Egypt and those that exist have been limited in the scope of their methodology. Geographical coverage and research for child labour in Egypt is also limited, as are accurate statistics and data. There was, therefore, a strong case for looking again at the domestic child labour phenomenon in Egypt, especially after the Demographic Health Survey (DHS) released the first data about child labour in Egypt in 2014. This study builds on the few findings of earlier work, and broadens coverage by including advanced methods and geographical effects of this problem.

This study focuses on identifying socio-demographic, economic and geospatial factors associated with child labour participation.

We used the 2014 Egypt Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS) from the Ministry of Health and Population in Egypt, with the record of 20,560 never-married children aged 5–17 years engaging in economic activities, in and out of their home. The data focused on demographic and socio-economic characteristics of household members. Multivariate Bayesian geo-additive models were employed to examine the demographical and socio-economic factors for children working less than 16 hrs; between 16 and less 45 hrs; and over 45 hrs weekly.

The results showed that at least 31.6% of the children in the age group from 5–10 were working, 68.5% of children aged 11–17 years were engaged in child labour for a wage, and 44.7% of the children in the age group from 5–10 were engaged in hazardous work. From the multivariate Bayesian geo-additive models, female children (with male children as reference category) working at least 16 hrs (OR: 1.3; with 95% CI: 1.2–1.5) were more likely to be engaged in child labour than girls working 16 to 45 hrs (OR: 1; 95% CI: 0.3–1.5). Children born to women without formal education, in non-hazardous jobs, irrespective of the hours spent at work, were more likely to be involved in child labour (52.9%, 56.8%, 62.4%) compared to children of mothers with some level of education. Finally, children who have experienced psychological aggression and physical punishment are more likely to be used as child labour than those without such experience across the job types and hours spent. North-eastern Egypt has a higher likelihood of child labour than most other regions, while children who live in the Delta are more engaged in hazardous work.

This study revealed a significant influence of socio-demographic and economic factors on child labour and violence against children in Egypt. Poverty, neglect, lack of adequate care and exposure of children to various grades of violence are major drivers of child labour across the country. The spatial effect suggests the need to give more attention to some areas that have high rates of child labour, such as the Nile Delta, Upper Egypt, and North-eastern Egypt.

Partial Text

In 1989, the General Assembly of the United Nations issued Resolution 44/25, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which defines a child as a human being below 18 years of age. This convention emphasised the need to seek to protect children from performing any work that could be hazardous, interfere with their education, or damage their health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development [1]. It also required Member States to take legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to ensure such protection. In addition, these states are obligated, according to this convention, to set a minimum age for employment, determine an adequate system of working hours and working conditions and impose appropriate penalties to ensure the effective application of these conditions.

The analysis in this work is based on data obtained from the 2014 Egypt Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS) (S1 Data) (Supporting Information) which is the most recent data on child labour in Egypt. The Survey was conducted by Egypt’s Ministry of Health and Population and the National Population Council in collaboration with Macro International [8]. As this was a secondary data analysis of open access data, ethics approval was not required. The sample for the 2014 EDHS was designed to provide estimates of population and health indicators, welfare indicators, and other indicator rates for the country as a whole and for six major subdivisions (Urban Governorates, urban Lower Egypt, rural Lower Egypt, urban Upper Egypt, rural Upper Egypt, and the Frontier Governorates) [8]. The sample likewise allows for estimates of most key indicators at the governorate level.

This study emphasises the significance of seeking child protection against engaging in any job or task that could be hazardous, interfere with education or damage the health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development of a child, in line with the UN convention. We reviewed how poverty, declining economic conditions and rising inflation continue to worsen the situation across various parts in Egypt.




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