Many children in Egypt suffer various forms of violence, exploitation, human trafficking and inadequate family care. There is a widespread use of violence as a socially acceptable disciplinary practice. The 2014 Demographic Health Survey (DHS) shows that 93 per cent of children aged 1 to 14 years old have been exposed to violent disciplinary practices, including psychological aggression and/or physical punishment. Moreover, according to the National Center for Social and Criminological Research and the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons in 2011, child trafficking in Egypt includes seasonal or temporary marriages, slavery or forced labor, as well as trafficking for removal of organs and sexual exploitation. The exact number of children who are trafficked is unknown and no reliable surveys or data collection systems on child trafficking exist.
Girls are particularly vulnerable to various forms of abuse such as Female Genital Mutilation and child marriage. The prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation/cutting (FGM/c) in girls aged 15-17 has steadily decreased in the past decade from 76.5 per cent in 2005 to 61 per cent in 2014 according to the 2014 Egypt Demographic Health Survey. However, regional disparities exist. For example, the percentage of 0 to 17 years old girls, who are expected to undergo FGM/c reaches 90 per cent in some Upper Egypt governorates. Regarding child marriage, the 2014 DHS shows that child marriage among girls aged 15-17 is 6.4 per cent.
Child labor constitutes also a major threat to the young generation. The 2014 EDHS found that 7 per cent of children aged 5-17 years old, around 1.6 million children, are involved in child labor and 5.6 per cent of these children work under hazardous conditions.
In terms of family care, the Ministry of Social Affairs data indicate that 8,506 children aged 6-18 were living in residential care institutions (MISA 2013) and there were 16, 019 street children (MISA 2015). Yet, NGOs working with children living on the street estimate the numbers to be much higher.
Regarding irregular migration of Unaccompanied Minor Children (UMCs), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Egypt has observed an increasing trend of Egyptian UMCs migrating to Europe over the past five years. Since 2011, Egypt holds the highest ratio of UMCs among irregular adult migrants reaching Europe. 49 per cent of the 4,095 Egyptians arriving irregularly in Italy were unaccompanied children in 2014, compared to 28 per cent in 2011. This upward trend continued in 2015 when 60 per cent or 1,711 out of 2,610 Egyptian irregular migrants were UMCs. Youths aged 16 to 17 represent the highest percentage of UMC. As of June 2016, there are 2,089 unaccompanied and separated refugee children under the protection of UNHCR in Egypt.
The situation of children in Egypt is aggravated by lack of preventive and responsive child protection services and an inadequate juvenile justice system. Key legislation achievements such as the amendment to the penal code criminalizing FGM/c and the Child Law have not been accompanied by necessary measures and resources.
Additional information on child protection in Egypt are also accessible via these links: