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Fathiya Hassan, "I would give up this job to go to school"

Fathiya Hasan, the first female child to works as a car washer in Hargeisa Mohammed Amin Jibril/IRIN
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.

"My family lives in Abaye settlement of Ga'an Libah District of the capital. In total, we are 11 and I help support the family as my mother and father cannot provide for all of us.

"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.

"I think I may be the only female car washer in Somaliland and most of my clients are women, whom I like because they respect me more than the male car owners.

"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'."


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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