Child Labor in Uzbekistan

According to Eurasianet’s article, Uzbekistan: Widespread child labor persists away from the fields, child labor remains a common practice across Uzbekistan, despite being against the law.

The Uzbek Government

  • The International Labor Organization defines child labor as work that deprives any person under 18 of the opportunity to attend school, obliges them to leave school prematurely, or requires them to attend school while also partaking in excessively long and heavy work.
  • In 2021, the ILO reported that the Uzbek government has improved in dealing with child labor. According to the report, around 2 million children are no longer made to work in the fields.
  • However, it is unclear whether or not the Uzbek government continues to keep track of any statistics regarding the persistent issue of child labor, seeing as none have been made available to the public.
  • Additionally, there are no non-profit organizations in Uzbekistan that aim specifically to combat child labor because the government makes the process of registering an NGO so difficult.

Why Child Labor?

Child labor continues to persist because of persistent poverty. It is common that low-income families cannot afford to hire adult-labor or that they have to resort to using the help of their children to supplement their meager income.

This is because the Uzbek government does not provide sufficient support for struggling families. Low-income families may apply to receive an allowance anywhere between $10 and $33 per child per month. Families are also eligible to apply for an additional $36 overall. However, if parents work for the minimum wage which is $90, the allowance is not enough to properly sustain a family.

Furthermore, despite child labor having been outlawed, law enforcement has been weak. Coercing children into begging has been outlawed, but when children sell things in the street, the only punishment the police can apply to the parents is a fine for improperly carrying out their parental duties. The fine is very small, and so parents are not afraid to keep sending their children to the streets to sell goods. Of course, child exploitation is also responsible in some cases.

The Future

Currently, there are around 2,000 people employed as juvenile affairs inspectors with the Interior Ministry. However, there are around 10.5 million children under age 15 in Uzbekistan.

It is evident that in order to improve the situation surrounding child labor, it is crucial to reform the government system. A good first step would be to at least begin with increasing the number of employees who are tasked with dealing and solving the issue of child labor.

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