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Editorial: Child slavery

Afghan children fall in the category of those who are only worst hit by the over three decades of war but are also the worst victim of the government’s poor polices and inattention. They are the war-hit and voiceless segment of the society because they have no representation in the parliament, judiciary and executive. Moreover, child rights protection is used as a catchy slogan in the country by the so-called governmental and nongovernmental organizations to secure donations.  Scores of seminars and conferences are organized on the child rights. Several reports on the problems faced by the voiceless folk had been issued in the past decade. However, these reports and seminars in the five star hotels failed to change fate of the Afghan children. Children of the nation still to see positive change in their lives.

In the age which is supposed to be only for playing and getting school education, a large number of Afghan children are working at different places to support their families financially. As Afghanistan is a conflict zone and still dealing with the challenges of terrorism and extremism, work environment in most parts of the country is not as per expectations. The hazardous situation has made many people mental patients. Work stress and family-related issues are troubling the children. Since they cannot establish political parties, unions and other pressure groups or launch protests, therefore, their rights are violated more frequently.

Child labor has become child slavery in the country as children below 10 years of age are working at factories, brick kilns, workshops, hotels, restaurants, fuel stations and super stores. The government still to draft laws pertinent to child labor and approve it from the Wolesi Jirga and Meshrano Jirga—Lower and Upper houses of the Afghan parliament. The legal void has provided an opportunity to the business class to exploit children as cheap labor. Since most of the children are unaware of their rights because of the age factor and lack of specific organizations, they are easily forced to believe that their manager is their master.

According to a recent report on the child rights, the government has failed to ensure health and safety standards. The report says that the teenage laborers work from dawn to dusk at hazardous work place and condition.  Child, human and labor rights have become a myth in the country.

To address the issue of child labor and protection of children’s rights, the government had to draft comprehensive laws to ensure international laws regarding child labor and rights are implemented in letter and spirit.

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