Teenager Films Afghan Child Labor
A video shot by an 18-year-old Afghan in the claustrophobic passages of a coal mine casts new light on one of Afghanistan’s most disturbing challenges.
Children as young as 10 toil in illegal mines, often for 12 hours a day, activists say. Afghan officials agree the problem is stubborn despite recent efforts. The boys represent a thorny obstacle to the nation’s push to transform its antiquated mining industry into a modern economic engine.
At unlicensed coal mines in Afghanistan’s remote Bamiyan province, children as young as 10 are working with no safety protection. Fledgling Afghan filmmaker Fardeen Barkazai risked a trip through Taliban territory to tell their story.
Their plight is receiving new attention from 18-year-old Fardeen Barakzai. With the backing of the nonprofit school in Kabul where he works, Mr. Barakzai said he traveled through Taliban territory in Bamiyan province to document the conditions of child laborers at an unlicensed coal mine. His film shows young boys coated in coal dust that blotches their skin and stains their teeth.
Child labor “is a major, major problem in Afghanistan,” said Hervé Berger, head of the United Nations’ International Labor Organization in Afghanistan.
“Kabul children play, go to school,” Mr. Barakzai said. “But there, the children are so dirty, the work is not good. I wanted to show Kabul and all of Afghanistan that this is a big problem for all children.”