‘Turkey lacls laws to protect child actors’
Sera De Vor ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
The report also highlights that studies on the impact of working in the entertainment industry on children’s psychological development is extremely limited in Turkey.Turkey falls below international standards protecting children in the entertainment industry, revealed a joint report released by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and UNICEF.
While children working in cultural and artistic activities is the “most visible form of child labor,” the report points out that Turkey has “no legislative regulation for the work they perform,” as well as a lack of information on the actual number of children working in the industry.
UNICEF representative to Turkey Ayman Abu Laban said at the press conference announcing the report Dec. 13, “Children working in the entertainment industry lack rights’ protections and are subject to behavior that is unsuitable for their ages. The gap in the laws must be filled. But in reality, the laws cannot take the place of self-control by the sector itself.”
Labor and Social Security Ministry General-Director of Labor Ali Kemal Sayın said at the same gathering that it would not be enough for the ministry to operate as a permission mechanism, and children’s employers must be held responsible through sanctions.
The report indicates that legislative arrangements in Turkey relating to child actors’ work conditions fall short of their needs and remain below international standards. “It is also observed that working conditions in this sector are arranged without due consideration of children’s special needs and developmental characteristics,” the report said.
The report also highlights that in addition to a lack of legal regulations, studies on the impact of working in the entertainment industry on children’s psychological development is extremely limited in Turkey, child actor trade unions are almost non-existent, and there are very few children covered by social security.
Among the complaints from child actors interviewed for the report are long and irregular working hours and interference with their school attendance and homework. Their mothers agree working conditions are too demanding for children and work combined with school barely leaves time for rest or leisure.
Child development specialists who contributed to the report agree that child actors are abused. They drew attention to the fact younger children generally have not reached the point in their development in which they can distinguish between real life and their fictional environments.
Authorities from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security said in the report the issue is “on the agenda,” and they “are going to consider the opinions and suggestions of specialists and the ILO. A commission under the General Directorate will urgently draft legislation relating to the topic. Public pressure may be helpful in expediting the legislative process in Parliament.”
An official from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism said children must be allowed to work only if it is not detrimental to their education and social development. “Filming sets must be inspected. We do not have such authority, so this can be done by the Supreme Board of Radio and Television [RTÜK].”
An RTÜK official said in the report they have already begun preliminary work on regulations to protect child actors’ rights.
To improve conditions, the report includes suggestions such as creating a databank of child entertainers, prohibiting child actors’ employment at night, ensuring that children are provided with resting areas on set, regulating the scripts’ content to avoid traumatizing children, government-led inspections of child actors’ work conditions, and establishing a commission that would regularly oversee children’s rights in the entertainment industry.
The ILO/UNICEF report said it hopes to “contribute to the preparation process of a bylaw which will regulate children’s’ work conditions in cultural and artistic activities.”