Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Child Labour on the Rise in Tajikistan

By Zarina Ergasheva











Large numbers of children from poor backgrounds go out to work in Tajikistan, and the numbers appear to be increasing.

Tajik law prohibits the hiring of under-15s, and the country has ratified international conventions banning the employment of minors and the use of young people in hard manual jobs.

“It’s believed that one in eight children in Tajikistan are engaged in some kind of work,” Valijon Karimov of Save the Children says.

Some 200,000 children work in Tajikistan, an about one in ten of these do not go to schools. Poverty is the major driving force that prompts parents to allow their children to work.

Minors are commonly employed in rural areas, often in the labour-intensive cotton industry.

Even in the capital Dushanbe, there are children working as porters at the large Shohmansur market, carrying purchases for a small amount of money.

Alisher, now 13, has been working at the market since the age of 11 when his father died. He contributes money to support his mother and three younger siblings.

Unlike many, he still manages to fit in going to school. He makes 30 to 40 somonis a month, the equivalent of seven to nine US dollars, which he spends on essential school items as well as food for the household.

Matluba Dodobaeva who works with a youth NGO says parents need to be made aware of the difference between heavy manual labour and more acceptable light work.

Muhayo Khosabekova of the International Labour Organisation says child labour will only become a thing of the past when parents earn enough to support their families so they do not need to send their children out to work.

“I think that will be one of the main ways of eradicating child labour is when someone earns a good job, at least a decent enough wage to cover their minimum subsistence needs,” she said. “I don’t see another way other than decent work for adults so that children can be maintained and go to school.”

The audio programme, in Russian and Tajik, went out on national radio stations in Tajikistan, as part of IWPR project work funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.