Child labour in Afghanistan

Photo and text by Lina Kiani

The war is one of the main problems in Afghan society, which has plagued its people for many years. The war in Afghanistan has caused the Afghan people to endure difficult lives for many years, and the most damage of this war has been for the children of Afghanistan. One of the most serious harms of war is the spread of poverty and the decreased access to money and funds in the country, which has caused harm to children who are forced to work, and has prevented children from studying. This has caused and will continue to cause another type of social poverty for future generation – the absence of educated people who can develop their country.
When you walk in the streets of Afghanistan’s cities, you see children working hard everywhere and at every step. They accept all kinds of hardships and pressures so that they can find a little money for their nightly bread.
In the most optimistic circumstances, children are engaged in heavy work in shops, hotels, restaurants, repair shops, construction works, etc. This can be considered as luck because the child has a certain place to work, an income, and their work is stable. Also, the possibility of mental abuse and harassment by people is less common.
But a large part of Afghan children are in the streets and are busy with work such as hand-selling, cleaning cars, begging, smoking pecan nuts, collecting occupations (such as picking rubbish), etc. which can be very harmful to children because these children have small bodies due to poverty and lack of food, and they may not be seen by drivers on the streets, causing serious accidents. They are harassed by people, they experience injuries in the hot summer heat, and freeze in the extreme cold of winter. In the midst of work pollution might be another danger causing serious illnesses.

Unfortunately, due to the hardships and pressures on these children, the spirit of childhood is killed in them from early on in their lives, and things such as play and childhood are lost in them. They become parents for their siblings from early childhood and work hard for a piece of bread. You can see plenty of children who smile when you tell them you want to take a picture but their smiles show a bitter face, expressing many hardships in their early years of life.
When you walk around the streets of the city, you will see that young girls and boys are very busy with work. They hurry and don’t want to waste time talking so that they can get back to their work to not lose any possibility of income.
They have a strange sense and understanding of what is happening to them and their childhood. When I asked Farid and Umair to take a picture of them, they hid their tools. When I asked them why are you hiding them, Umair said, I don’t want to show them to people. They know that they have to work, but they also know that they are nothing more than children. It is true that they have to work hard like adults and are deprived of all the beauties of childhood, but this does not mean that all of them do not feel like children while their souls have grown up. Only their fate and the hard times have forced them to be big.