By Mahbob Shah Mahbob
Nearly 1,900 children are engaged in hard labour in the border town of Torkham in eastern Nangarhar province, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said on Saturday.
Up to 1,883 children, including 331 girls, carry heavy loads 34 others work in 28 hotels, the AIHRC official Ghulam Hussain Bewas said during an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News.
Under the labour law, a child should not work more than 35 hours a week, but they toil more than 14 hours a day, he said. “Our minors are doing hard labour, in addition to being insulted and beaten.”
Two children take a break from moving wheelbarrows of heavy bags in Torkham. (Photo: RAWA.org)
Director of Labour and Social Affairs Abdul Hakim Sherzad confirmed that hundreds of children were doing rigorous jobs in Torkham. A French organisation, Terre Des Hommes (TDH) -- the land of people -- is working for children’s welfare in the town under their supervision, he added.
“We have provided education facilities for nearly 450 children and vocational training for another 100,” the director said, lamenting minors were employed in brick kilns in Surkhrod district.
TDH head in the eastern zone, Hassan Khan, said more than 1,000 children did taxing jobs like carrying loads, working in workshops and hotels to earning a livelihood for their families.
A cart-pushing child, Khairullah who comes daily from Momand Dara district to Torkham for work, said: “On average I earn 200 to 300 afs a day.” Being an orphan, he has to eke out a living for his mother and sisters.
A 10-year-old girl, Zamzama, from the Hazar Naw area of the same district, said while her father pushed a handcart, she collected plastic bottles in the area.
“My father brings me to the town and tasks me with collecting bottles and selling them.” She is keen on going to school but she cannot summon the courage to defy her father’s orders.