Working in order to read, inequality in Turkey

travailler working

In this thorougly inegalitarian Turkish society, children are affected of course, as they always were. Notwithstanding the nationalistic and bigoted stance of the AKP’s leadership, Turkey has now moved on to shameless and uncontrolled liberalism.

From top to bottom of the social ladder, inequalities abound and deepen, and the social mobility of Republican Kemalism no longer operates in an economy where labor laws oppress the weak instead of protecting them, and where the dominant class accumulates and financializes.

The street thus becomes the survival economy where refugees and migrants from within or without the borders compete and share poverty. Children are much in evidence there…

As encountered, while browsing…

Freely adapted from a short article by Filiz Zeyrek  published by JINNEWS.


We invited ourselves out on the streets of Adana after school hours, in order to collect the dreams of children who are there to work. Some want to be doctors, others, teachers… The dreams are different but all are subjected to the same inequality.

Some wield brushes, others sell lighters or beads… The objects they hold are different, but their hands are the same.

You must hold the brush before you can put the pencil to the copybook.

These children try to get through  school by coping with the intricacies of the country’s  unequal sharing of  well-being. Of course, no inequality or injustice can keep them from dreaming. While they work, the children don’t give up on their dreams.

The children we met invited us into their world and confided some of their wishes.

“I will cure my father”

This is Ramazan speaking. He is 10 years old. He wants to be a doctor. Because his father is sick and must get better… Ramazan says he works mostly on week-ends “because I must do my homework on the other days. I buy lighters and beads wholesale and sell them at the bazar. Ramazan says he does not want to work with his family, “I always try to earn my own money. I will be a doctor and my father will get better.”

“When I see uniforms, I make a quick getaway”

Besides the usual dangers in the street, Ramazan’s greatest fear is the municipal police: “I’m most afraid of the municipal police…because when they catch us, they confiscate our goods, they cut us off and impound our goods. But…when I see badges, I run very fast and they never catch me.”

“We will have the best”

We meet shoeshine boys like Ömer who not only works weekends with his two cousins but on weekdays too. Ömer talks about the money he gives his mother, “My mother uses the money for my school fees. As I don’t like staying at home, I enjoy working. If we make enough, we’ll buy the coolest jar of paint.”

Ömer says older children try to make more money by hustling them, “Me and my cousins don’t get pushed around. I have 6 brothers and sisters. This is why I must help my family.”

Ömer’s greatest dream is to be a phys ed teacher. That will take 5 to 6 pairs of shoes shined every day…


Français : Travailler pour lire, “l’inégalité” en Turquie Cliquez pour lire

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Daniel Fleury
REDACTION | Auteur

Lettres modernes à l’Université de Tours.
Gros mots politiques… Coups d’oeil politiques…
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Daniel Fleury

REDACTION | Auteur Lettres modernes à l’Université de Tours. Gros mots politiques… Coups d’oeil politiques…

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