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Egypt

Egypt faces a unique child rights situation, for its large child population. The major child rights challenges are protection, quality education, livelihoods skill development and basic health care. With major protection issues i.e. street children, irregular migration, child labour, children in institutional care and female genital mutilation, the country has a daunting task of setting in motion an effective national child protection system . Inadequate care and violence, particularly sexual violence , make institutional care highly unsafe for children.

Save the Children is working with street children, irregular migration, institutional care standards and child labour and works very closely with NCCM - the focal national agency – to strengthen national child protection system in order to reduce and prevent violence, abuse and exploitation against children. Save the Children has been operating its development programmes in Egypt since 1982, and implements programmes throughout the country. In 2013, Save the Children began an emergency response to the Syrian refugee crisis which focuses on providing protection and education opportunities for children, as well as promoting peaceful coexistence between the refugee and host communities.

Child labour, early marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM), are the major harmful traditional practices. The Child Law  from 1996 prohibits child labour up to the age of 15 in a number of industries; yet, there are large scale child labour in both rural and urban areas. Similarly, in spite of the legal marriage age being set at 18 for both girls and boys , many girls are married off without official papers. FGM is still practiced, albeit in declining rate, in spite of its ban.

Main causes for children without appropriate care and therefore institutionalisation, are children after death of one or both parents, due to a parent's illness, due to adverse economic circumstances, "unknown parenthood", parental divorce and a parent's imprisonment. This reflects high level of family vulnerability and weak social protection both within the family and from the state. Street children are another group. Studies have reported extreme forms of physical violence such as beating with electric wires, whips and sticks, or causing burns with hot instruments, apart from sexual violence. Adolescents undertaking migration are prone to life risks in journey by boats on open seas and wage exploitation at workplace.

Brief emergency during the political change process and the sectarian sporadic violence that erupted afterwards, created vulnerability for children’s protection. Egypt has a history of earthquakes that make emergency preparedness a key child protection instrument.

According to the national survey in 2001, the majority of working children were in agriculture, yet this category of children are not legally protected under the labour law 2003 (Act no.12). The other categories of children that are not prohibited under the labour law are, child domestic workers and children involved in family-based economic activities. In effect, these children are exposed to exploitation, abuse and violence of varied nature.

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