At only 12 years old, Fathiya Hassan has distinguished herself in Hargeisa, capital of Somalia’s self-declared republic of Somaliland, by being the first girl to join the thriving car-wash business. A local human rights NGO says 30 percent of children in Somaliland engage in some form of work, making Hassan one of hundreds of children working to feed themselves and their families, despite the fact that child labour is outlawed. She spoke to IRIN on 24 February.
“I usually operate along Togdheer Street and I earn 10,000 Somaliland shillings [US$1.60] daily, but there are some days when I don’t make anything.
“Although I have been a car-washer for the past two years, I would give it up in an instant if I got some support to go to school. I have also worked as a cleaner in one of the restaurants here in Hargeisa.
“Sometimes I don’t get paid the same amount that a male car-washer would receive; some even tell me they have nothing to pay me; if I insist on being paid, they threaten [to beat] me.
“Moreover, the male children who also wash cars look down on me, telling me: ‘You are a girl, you don’t deserve to wash cars’.”
Here’s a 2008 UNICEF video on child labor (UNICEF estimates that there are “158 million children under the age of 15 who are trapped in child labor around the world.”)