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Foreign child workers exploited in sweatshops in Istanbul’s Küçükpazar

Author: Hurriyet Daily News, Published on: 21 February 2017

The Küçükpazar neighborhood of Istanbul’s Fatih district has become a center of sweatshops, where children from outside Turkey are forced to work in shocking conditions. The large commercial buildings in the narrow streets of Küçükpazar, behind the historical Süleymaniye Mosque, are today home to textile ateliers where many Syrians, Pakistanis, Iraqis and Turkmens can be spotted. Dozens of these workshops produce fake bags, mostly for export to Iraq. In one of the basement sweatshops where shirts are being produced, Hürriyet witnessed children working in conditions with no air conditioning or windows. While the proportion of migrants in the sweatshop is very high, there are very few Turkish people working. The children could not respond to questions as they could not speak Turkish well, though one of the Turkish children said he understood the questions but did not want to answer...When asked about the child workers, [manager] failed to answer for a couple of minutes before saying they receive “pocket money” and do “not officially work for the business.” “They are the children of my friends and are here to learn the job,” he said...One manager did not want to reveal which brands they were producing the clothes for. “We are producing for the market. They order what products they want and we produce accordingly. Our products are being sold in many spots in Turkey, but goods for export are generally produced in the building we’re in,” he said, adding that most of the products are exported to northern Iraq.

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