AT News Report
KABUL: Poverty—a devastating phenomenon, has forced 200,000 school-aged children in northeastern Badakhshan province to hard labor work, provincial officials said.
These vulnerable children aged between 7 to 15 years’ old that have been deprived of education, their basic right.
One of these children is Tawab, a 10-year-old who has no other choice but to work at a blacksmith shop. He told Azadi Radio: “Due to extreme poverty, I have come here to work as a metalsmith apprentice to earn a few Afghanis to buy tea, shoes and clothes.”
The brick kilns and auto-repair workshops have also turned into children-dominated areas in Faizabad city, the provincial capital.
These destitute children cannot go to school, despite willing to do, have accepted the low income to fed themselves.
Jameel, another child, working at one of the brick kilns, said with a weary tone –which depicts his black and hopeless life—that he was in fifth grade when he quit school, and now it has been two years.
Another child named Abdullah, a 14-year-old, who also works at a brick kiln, said pressure from the family and life’s suffering situation had dragged him into brickwork.
Abdullah said he earned 300 Afs daily, adding “We have no food or cooking oil at home.”
Article 49th of the Constitution says that “Forced labor is forbidden […] and children shall not be subjected to forced labor.” Meanwhile, the 4th clause of Article 13th of the Law of Labor has forbidden employing children under 18 for doing hard labor, which prevents physical growth and causes disability.
The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) provincial office in Badakhshan expressed its concerns over children labor.
AIHRC Provincial Head, Arifa Naweed said that currently 200,000 children were busy in manual labor in the province.
However, the provincial Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled (LSAMD) department doesn’t have exact figures of these children.
Shafiqullah Ayoubi, head of LSAMD, said some families forced their children to do hard labor.
This isn’t the case in Badakhshan only. Afghan child across the country engaged in labor work. Some of these children are even taking part in illegal mining of coal under severe and dangerous circumstances.
Child labor is an issue of growing concern in Afghanistan. The ongoing political tension, insecurity and rising food prices have put the livelihoods of vulnerable families and children increasing at risk.
Unfortunately, child labor problem is rooted in poverty and in socioeconomic inequalities and social taboos.