On this World Day Against Child Labour (12 June), SAT-7 stands against the life-destroying exploitation of child workers. Our channels raise awareness among viewers in the Middle East who may encounter this injustice every day – including in Iran, where thousands of children are forced to scratch out a living on the streets.

“Child workers deal with the kind of pain and challenges that perhaps a person in their 30s or 40s could endure. Imagine that you have the strength to lift a 10kg weight, and you are given 50kg to carry. You will not be able to carry it. That is what happens in the minds of these children.” – Dr Pareesa Bahramian, speaking on the SAT-7 PARS program Signal

Presenters Reza and Neeloufar on the set of magazine show Signal

Child labour threatens the rights of many Middle Eastern children to safety, education, and play, destroying their chances for a better future. On a recent episode of Signal, presenters and experts spoke powerfully about the problem, which often affects children who are refugees or victims of trafficking, child sexual exploitation, or recruitment into armed groups.

“The issue of child labour is one of the most complex social problems in Iran – it is a painful and sad reality,” says presenter Reza Jafari. “It is our responsibility to address it through our program, to encourage people to take responsibility, and to help build a society in which children are not taken advantage of but can grow and flourish.”

Signal focused particularly on the plight of Iran’s street children, who are forced to beg or sell small items, often as a result of their parents’ drug addiction or unemployment. “What kind of injustice is it that precious children, in such a rich country, are brought so low that they are street children who cover their faces in shame?” asks Pastor Miltan Danial on the program. “Who should really be ashamed – these children, or those with means who have caused the situation that they are in?”

“After school, first I do my homework and then I come here” – 12-year-old Iranian seamstress shares on Signal

Movingly, the program also hears from a 12-year-old Iranian girl who works alongside her mother as a seamstress in Ankara, Turkey. “I come here to help my mum,” she says. “My brothers also come here. My mum is here a lot and stays working overnight, making clothes.” She explains that every day she attends school, does her homework, and then joins her mother at work. When her mother has to stay and work overnight, she says, she stays at work too.

During the discussion, psychologist Dr Bahramian explains to viewers the physical and emotional impact of child labour, children’s lack of legal protections, and how viewers can take action. In the case of street children, she says, instead of giving spare change, viewers can find out who is exploiting the child or seek out organisations that could support them. “If this approach is taken all over the world, we can build a bright future,” she says, “These children could be the scientists and artists of the future who could contribute a great deal.”

This episode of Signal is just one example of children’s rights advocacy that spans all SAT-7 channels. The popular SAT-7 ACADEMY gameshow Puzzle informs children and parents about children’s rights through play. And, in a recent campaign, the brand gave Arabic-speaking children a platform to call for their own rights in public service announcements. In one video, young Samir and Nadia say, “Demand a healthy life, empty of violence. A healthy life, full of education, play, love, and tenderness. It is our right to live with good physical and mental health. It is our right – all of us. All of us, without exception.”

Please pray

SAT-7 programs are watched across the Middle East and North Africa, from Mauritania – where almost 20 percent of children work – to Afghanistan, where only 41 percent are in school[1].

Please pray with us today that SAT-7’s advocacy will help bring about an end to child labour in the Middle East. Pray that every child will be freed from carrying this burden too early in life, so they have the chance for a healthy, happy childhood.

[1] Source:  United States Bureau of International Labour Affairs

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