Pajhwok Services

Photo Service

SMS News Service

Pajhwok combines its expertise and experience in news reporting with a telecom firm and thus reach a wider audience in an 
effective way.

To subscribe: 
English News Update : Send 83 to 824
Dari News Update : Send 84 to 824
Pashto News Update : Send 85 to 824

Election Coverage

Special Mining Page

Afghan Peace Process Special Page

Addvertise With Pajhwok

Daily Newsletter

Language
Sending Time (GMT / Kabul time)

Suggest a Story

Pajhwok is interested in your story suggestions. Please tell us your thoughts by clicking here.

Debt bondage has serious consequences for communities

Debt bondage has serious consequences for communities

By
On
Mar 23, 2017 - 14:57

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Some individuals lend money to poor families that are forced into hard labour -- a practice called human trafficking under the law.

In a number of provinces, including Kabul, some impoverished households have been lent money and given low-wage jobs on orchards, at homes, shops, bricks kilns, farmlands and other places.

Indebted families and individuals work for lenders, but with the passage of time, their debt burden balloons. Ghulam Siddique, a resident of the Qarabagh district of Kabul, is one of such workers.

A father of nine, he is compelled to work along with his 14-year-old son on an orchard all day long. Their job involves a lot of hard labour.

Tragedy and continuing challenges of Ghulam Sediq

At 40, Siddique has visible wrinkles on his dark visage due to hard labour and there were more signs of tiredness and disappointment in his face.

With a spade in his hand standing near a canal, the man told Pajhwok Afghan News he had borrowed money from an orchard owner two years back.

“Two years back, I didn’t have cooking oil, sugar or flour to feed my family. Some of my family members were sick. I didn’t know what to do. I came to the orchard owner and asked him for a loan.

After a pause, he took a quick look at his past and said: “I asked for a small amount of money, but the orchard owner gave me 50,000 afghanis on condition that my family and I will work on his orchard.”

During the past two years, they have been unable to return the amount borrowed from the orchard owner; they have no option but to sweat it out on the 20 acres garden.

There are grape, apple, pears, palm and other trees in the orchard. “I am caught in a lot of economic problems. I don’t know when I will get rid of this loan.”

He said they were give one-fourth of the orchard produce at the end of the year; they could barely meet their daily needs. Like him, a number of other people are faced with a similar fate.

14-year-old Ibrahim: There is God for us too!

Ibrahim, a teenager, comes to the orchard along with his father at dawn and returns home at dusk.

Clad in thin clothes in the harsh winter, he told Pajhwok: “I neither go to school nor play games. On a daily basis, I have to come to the orchard early I the morning and go back home in the evening.”

Ibrahim, having a pale face, sunken eyes and weak physique, said: “In breakfast, I sip green tea and eat plain bread. In lunch I eat cabbage, potato or other vegetables.” In response to a query, Ibrahim said he last ate meat at a reception two months ago.

 “I wish we were moneyed and my sisters, brothers and I could go to school. If we were rich, our woes would have been fewer.”

Looking tired, he said: “I also long to play and wear new clothes. On return home at dusk, I feel so exhausted, eat some food and sleep.”

Unwilling to speak much, Ibrahim said: “We also have Allah.” (Both Siddique and Ibrahim are assumed names.)

I have not wronged the family, rather have helped: Orchard owner

Haji Jalal is the owner of the orchard where Ghulam Siddique and Ibrahim work all day long in a bid to pay back their debt.

He said: “The family came to me two years back and asked for money and work. I lent them money and gave them work o my orchard.”

He lent them 50,000 afghanis and in return the family pledge working in the orchard. Jalal claimed helping the family without doing them anything wrong. The family would have been in deeper trouble if he had not come to their rescue, the man insisted.

Jalal added said the household was free to leave the orchard and go anywhere they wanted when they paid back his money.

AIHRC: Need for comprehensive and practical strategy to prevent this phenomenon

Najibullah Babrakzai, an official at the Afghanistaninfo-icon Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), confirmed many children in different provinces, including Kabul, were involved in hard labour.

He quoted AIHRC observers as saying some children were involved in hard labour at brick kilns, hospitals, workshops, markets and other places.

He, however, explained they had not yet received any report about whole families forced to work on orchards in return for loans. “However, we will investigate this too.”

Babrakzai has informed Social Affairs Ministry and other government institutions about growing child labour. He asked the government to devise a strategy for rescuing children from hard labour.

UNICEF: Forced labour has deprived children of educationinfo-icon

Azizullah Frotan, spokesman for the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), acknowledged many minors involved in labour, particularly those working on orchard, were deprived of education.

He said UNICEF provided education facilities for such children in villages and far-flung areas. He said the programme was being implemented in 18 provinces.

The UN agency plans to extend the programme to 20 more provinces. According to Frotan, 130,000 children, including 70,000 girls, were benefited by the initiative.

Asked why the programme was not being implemented in Kabul, he replied they would do so if requested by the Ministry of Education (MoE).

Ministry of Justice: Law forbids forced labour

Aman Riyazat, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) spokesman, said 12 legislative decrees had been issued, seeking a halt to forced labour that involved children.

The decrees want individuals involved in hard labour to be brought under investigation. But he did not explain who has been prosecuted for forcing children into hard labour.

Riyazat added a draft law protecting children was being prepared. The law is aimed to enforce children’s rights.

C-TiP High Commission: Bonded labour is Trafficking in Persons

Maryam Zurmati, member of a commission seeking to end human trafficking, said forcing a family to work on orchards and other places in return for debt was a type of human trafficking.

She said human smuggling had been declared a crime under all laws of Afghanistan and the perpetrators should be prosecuted.

The level of human trafficking has increased in the recent past in Afghanistan and Pajhwok Afghan News has been trying to highlight such instances.

mud

Related Article


Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.

   

Add new comment

Advertisement

Advertisement

Twitter Update