Victims of War and Conflicts: Child Labor in Afghanistan

Eshaq Barna

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A young child is breaking coal with two other kids at his back. [Photo: Archive]

By: Eshaq Barna

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”  – Nelson Mandela-

Children are future citizens of the Nation and their adequate development is utmost priority of the country. Unfortunately, child labor engulfs children across the world specifically in developing countries. Child labor in Afghanistan is one of the serious debates for human rights and law enforcement, it’s including in arm conflict, forced labor in production of bricks, carpets, construction and sometimes resulted human trafficking as well. Initially the child labor is a widespread and complex issue to overcome with details, however in this short study has been tried to cover the main factors and effects of child labor in Afghanistan recently. Generally children are the main victims of the conflicts and war.

Studying about child labor in Afghanistan is complicated with several reasons while the majority of the study showing the main reason that children are sent off to work is that they can feed their families caused by loss of their parent or both parents, or a child might have to go to work because of he/she lost father and their Mother is not able to work because of her gender in a traditional society and the most importantly poverty is the main cause of child labor in Afghanistan. Long terms of war and conflict effected Afghanistan’s children to have a normal life, many of them lost their family and parents, UNICEF estimates that almost 25 percent of the children in Afghanistan between ages 7-14 are working, this measurement probably underestimate the total figure, based on this report children in school enrollment and attendance is very low only half of all school age children going to school and the rest of the dropout rate is about 70 percent which is a high rate and they are to be found in many forms of child labor including arms, manufacturing, agriculture etc.

However, the labor law of Afghanistan stated that the minimum employment age is 18 and prohibits children under 14 to work and the children at the ages of 15-17 can work in a job with a comfortable environment and no harmful impacts like vocational training. Moreover in international labor standard on child labor emphasized that the child labor is a violation and it’s the fundamental of human rights and it has been shown to hinder children’s growth and improvement, potentially to lifelong physical or any psychological damage.

International labor organization noted about the consequences of child labor in Afghanistan that are direct threat to the future for Afghanistan and in particular, an area of concern for global prosperity and security opposes in general. In fact child labor and poverty are directly connected as poverty increase child labor increase as well. The impacts of child labor on the children mental and physical well being and damage the children mentally and socially. In Afghanistan particularly the consequences of child labor might be exposure on deception and exploitation by terrorist and criminal groups, high chances of to be involving in drug addiction, sexual exploitation, prevention from attending school and negatively affecting retention and performance and deprivation from the right to play, the right to be protected from harm, and access to health services, food, and safe shelter are the certain consequences of child labor in Afghanistan that will have a huge impact on the future of the nation.

Additionally, in recent years progress has been made in the area of child protection and safety, legislation and bonded laborers in some parts of Afghanistan. However the main issue of child labor still not been given sufficient important and attention by the national themselves. It is because of many factors such as lack of having a comprehensive strategy to the potential of government, international institution and non-governmental constitutions to change social norms and traditions through public awareness and emphasize the correlation of child labor and poverty as well as the future of human capital and social development that children are the main factors in future.

Children are valuable assets for a society and play an important role in national building and its considered to be the main human capital of a nation while, in Afghanistan children facing with many challenges and difficulties of life and surviving the most and the worst is child labor which has several factors and reasons however, in Afghanistan the two main factors are the reason of high rate child labor, long term of war and conflicts the second is poverty which is correlated between each other. Ultimately, it must be made strategy in regard to end and decrease the rate of child labor in the country. As a comprehensive strategy that focus to end the worst forms of child labor such arms, manufacturing, sexual abuse etc. there are several solutions to end and decrease the rate of child labor mainly improving the economic, creating jobs, training etc. The UNICEF stated in a report in 2020 that the government of Afghanistan and its international donors has given low budget allocations for the social protection of children particularly in social support such as education, legal advice and public health services because these factors can help to end and reduce the child labor in the country, it is needed to have the strategies of change and transformation about the future of children through the economic development, social support, social justice, public services and health care.

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