Stichting Vrouwen Onderzoeks- en Communicatiecentrum NEWA

Women work in hot pepper production for 5 USD a day

If you cross Halîliye neighbourhood of Riha, you can’t help but choke because of the sharp scent of Riha’s pepper.  But it seems that the local people have become used to it. In every corner and every street, peppers are hung up to dry and women are busy selecting the hot peppers. Regardless of the burning, those spicy plants leave on the hands of the women and children, it has become in fact their principal activity for the whole autumn. Women are cleaning and preparing peppers to sell one sack for around 5 Lira (1 U.S. dollar) and are working in that way for merely 20 to 50 Lira (5 to 14 U.S. dollars) per day, children for a daily wage of 40 TL (11 dollars) at max.

Adîle Îrfan says that they have become used to the sharpness of the pepper. “Some women go sitting worn out in front of a fan after finishing the household chores together and say that they are exhausted. But we do not have such luxury to complain of being exhausted” she says.


55 years old mother of five Îrfan says she is working like this for nearly 30 years now. She explains how isot is produced: “At first we select peppers, clean them and hang them up. We let them dry until they take a dark colour inside of the bags. Then they are kept for 4 to 5 more days in the bags and are finally grinded”

Îrfan stated that this work keeps them busy until November. With the money women support their families. Îrfan said that she is also supporting her unemployed son and added: “With this money our family manages to pull through, we pay also for the children’s education. However this work is not covered. We are able to prepare daily 5 to 10 bags, and sometimes there is a great amount of peppers whereas some other times there is more of a lack.”

16 years old Halîl Ay said that she is doing this work for about a month now, starting in the morning at 7 am until 8 pm. Ay pointed out that they are working for a daily wage of 40 Lira (11 dollars) but the work they accomplish is way more worth than 40 Lira. Ay said that she is working together with her mother and six of her siblings.

18 year old Mehmet Ceylan also said that the women are at the same time also cracking open the seeds of the peppers and added: “When they pour some olive oil into the machine the work begins. We take out the peppers out of the machine and spread them on the flat ground. We work for a daily wage of 40 Lira and have no other option.”

/ News Center

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