June 1, 2012 : Afghanistan: Bonded Labour in Afghanistan

Afghanistan: Bonded Labour in Afghanistan

Bonded labour in Afghanistan’s brick kilns is one of the most  common forms of hazardous labour in the country. More than half of the brick  kiln workers surveyed in a recent report by the International Labour  Organization (ILO) were children, with most under 14. Few are getting any  education to allow them to develop skills needed to break out of work in the  kilns.

Most children began working at the age of seven or eight, and  almost 80 percent are under 10. According to the ILO, the kilns rely on debt  bondage: Workers and their families are tied to a kiln by the need to pay off  loans taken out for basic necessities, medical expenses, weddings and  funerals.

The ILO report found that basic subsistence needs force families  to repeatedly take out loans, often paying for a winter’s food with a loan which  they pay back over an entire season. Of the families surveyed, 64 percent had  worked in the kilns for 11 years or more, and 35 percent had done so for more  than 20 years.

The exact number of kilns in Afghanistan is unknown, but reports  suggest that in Nangarhar Province’s Surkhroad District alone there are about  90, with 150-200 children working in each one. ILO estimates that Kabul  Province’s Deh Sabz District has 800 kilns.

“It is out of necessity and extreme poverty that households  enlist their children from an early age to work in the kilns,” said Sarah  Cramer, lead author of the ILO report. “There are four cycles prevalent in the  situation of bonded labour in Afghanistan – the cycle of debt, cycle of  vulnerability, cycle of dependence and the cycle of poverty.”

Reference: Rawa