Child Labor in Afghanistan’s Parwan Province Increases Since Taliban Takeover
Child labor figure in Afghanistan, especially in Parwan province, has risen dramatically since the establishment of the Taliban-led government and the emergence of poverty in the country. The Department of Labor and Social Affairs in Parwan province says it cannot afford to support these children. According to the authority, in Charikar city, the capital city of Parwan province alone, more than 1,700 children are employed in hard labor.
Qudratullah Zakir, the Taliban’s labor and social affairs director in Parwan province, told Hasht-e Subh that out of 1,700 working children, more than 100 were homeless in the town of Charikar, adding that some of them were now funded by the government. According to Zakir, due to the lack of financial resources, the department has handed over some children to some families to be cared for. “In the town of Charikar alone, which we surveyed, there are more than 1,700 child laborers,” he added. “We are not currently able to survey working children outside the center of Parwan, but if they are surveyed, there are likely to be thousands of them out-there.”
Qudratullah Zakir noted that 100 homeless children were being held at the state-run nurseries. But for some time now, 50 children have been placed in foster care.
The head of the Department of Labor and Social Affairs in Parwan province attributes the increase in child labor to recent developments, unemployment, and last year’s floods in Parwan province.
Meanwhile, working children in the city of Charikar have sad stories about their lives. Ashrafullah is nine years old and has been polishing shoes in Charikar for four months. Speaking to Hasht-e Subh, he said that his architect father had been unemployed for more than four months, stressing that he has been working to find food. He stated that their family has eight members and, he is the eldest child of the family. “Our living conditions were good for a few months,” Ashrafullah stated. “My father was working hard to take care of us. But now, no one has the money to hire my father. At the moment, only I work and, that’s it.”
Jamshid, 15, is another child in Parwan province. He was selling peas in a wheelbarrow for three weeks now. Jamshid is worried about his future. He says that if their poor economic situation does not improve, he may not go to school next year. “My older brother also sells chickpeas and, my father is unemployed,” Jamshid clarified. “Because my only brother could not support us, I have been selling peas in a separate Karachi (wheelbarrow) for three weeks. I earn 100 afghanis or more a day. Currently, our economic situation is very poor. If our economy does not improve by next year, when our schools start, I will have to work to make ends meet.”
Meanwhile, officials at Parwan’s Department of Labor and Social Affairs are urging the government and charities to look after working children. Unemployment and poverty have forced many of Afghanistan’s children to be employed in hard labor, according to groups defending children’s human rights. All children working on the streets are mentally and physically abused, and this has caused concern among child rights organizations.