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  • » 04/12/2008, 00.00

    AFGHANISTAN

    Afghani children work like slaves to repay family debts



    Thousands of children are exploited in 38 brick factories in the eastern part of the country. Both their health and their adolescence are at risk. But it is the only way for parents to repay their debts to the business owners.

    Jalalabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) - They number almost 2,300, and are all Afghani boys and girls, who sometimes work 12 hours a day in the dozens of brick factories in a district of the province of Nangarhar in eastern Afghanistan, to help their families pay their debts.

    They live with their families in mud huts, built around the 38 factories, and form a community of 556 families.  The health of the 'little slaves' is harshly tested, and the children often break their bones on account of the weight of the materials used to make the bricks.  Moreover, according to data from a study carried out by the Afghani Child Action Protection Network (CAPN), more than 90% of the workers have no access to education.

    Out of the 3,500 children who live in the district of Sorkhord, only 257 go to school, while the others are employed by the business owners, bartering their childhood for the cancellation of their parents' debts.  The majority of them are under 15 years of age.

    A great number of families, in fact, asked for loans from the owners of the factories and the brick merchants, loans that were given at extremely high interest rates and are hard to repay, forcing mothers and fathers to send their minor children to work.

    "The amount of the debts varies from 800 to 2,000 dollars", Haji Hayat Khan, the director of the department for social affairs in the province of Nangarhar, tells the news agency IRIN.

    The labour and social affairs ministry in Kabul has encouraged the non-governmental organisations working on the ground to help the indebted families pay their debts through long- and short-term loans.  Minister Wasil Noor Mohmand, confirming the necessity of intervention on the part of these organisations, says: "Obviously the government alone cannot pay all their debts".

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    See also

    14/06/2008 CENTRAL ASIA
    Child-slaves: no school, only work "in order to buy bread"
    Child labour is still widespread in Central Asia, despite international bans. Children are already marked by it at the age of seven, harvesting cotton or working in bazaars or as housekeepers. Out of poverty, but also because they are forced by the state.

    16/04/2009 SAUDI ARABIA
    Saudi court confirms validity of marriage for eight-year-old girl
    Criticisms from UNICEF and the U.S. State Department. The Riyadh justice minister himself says that he wants to put an end to the arbitrary power of parents who arrange marriages for minor children, but does not mention any ban.

    09/09/2004 ASIA
    Child illiteracy and child labour are the continent's main social ills

    One fifth of India's GNP is generated by exploited minors working in farming sector.



    16/04/2008 YEMEN
    Yemeni girl forced to marry at the age of 8 has obtained a divorce
    But the law that permits adults to marry minors will not be changed. A study has highlighted how marriage with young girls is an extremely widespread practice. The little Nojud now wants to return to school; she was in second grade.

    10/09/2008 PAKISTAN
    Christian girl, kidnapped and converted by Muslims, returned to family
    The alleged conversion has been found to be invalid, because the girl is just 10 years old. But her sister, who was also kidnapped, has been judged to have married by her own will, because she is "more than 16 years old", although her relatives say she is only 13, and that they will appeal to the supreme court.



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