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Tajik Labour Migrants Leave "Orphans" Behind

By Sadunsho Janobalisho











The army of migrant workers who leave Tajikistan to earn money abroad used to be almost entirely male. Men still dominate, but more and more women are joining the exodus – often leaving behind children to be cared for by relatives.

In the southeastern province of Badakhshan, women now account for one in five migrants, or 5,000 out of a total of 24,000. The latter figure means that about a third of the province’s working-age population is away in Russia, Kazakstan or another country.

When mothers as well as fathers are away, children are typically left with grandparents, who sometimes struggle with their upbringing.

Social-sector workers and experts say the phenomenon of “labour migrant orphans” is a growing concern. especially when mothers fail to return for months, even years on end. Sometimes they are not earning enough to be able to afford the return trip.

Sadunsho Janobalisho is an IWPR-trained radio reporter in Tajikistan.

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

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