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Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                        

Republic of Tajikistan

Tajikistan has one of the lowest per capita GDPs among the 15 former Soviet republics. Because of a lack of employment opportunities in Tajikistan, nearly half of the labor force works abroad, primarily in Russia, supporting families in Tajikistan through remittances. The exact number of labor migrants is unknown, but estimated at around 1 million. Less than 7% of the land area is arable. Cotton is the most important crop, but this sector is burdened with debt and obsolete infrastructure. Mineral resources include silver, gold, uranium, and tungsten.

Description: Description: Tajikistan

Industry consists only of a large aluminum plant, hydropower facilities, and small obsolete factories mostly in light industry and food processing.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Tajikistan is a source country for women trafficked to the UAE often through Kyrgyzstan and Russia, for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Some women are trafficked from Tajikistan to Russia, Turkey, Iran, and India for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Men are trafficked to Russia and, to a lesser extent, Kazakhstan for the purpose of forced labor, primarily in the construction and agricultural sectors. Children, men, and women are coerced by some local government authorities to harvest cotton. In 2008, a small number of Tajik men were trafficked to Poland for the purpose of forced labor. Boys and girls are trafficked internally for various purposes, including forced labor, forced begging, and commercial sexual exploitation. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Tajikistan.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims

International Organization for Migration
37 221 03 02
Country code: 992-



Woman jailed for forcing child into sex trade

Independent Online (IOL) News, Dushanbe, 5 November 2004

[accessed 28 December 2010]

Last week a non-governmental organisation said there was a growing trend in the abduction and sale of Tajik boys for sexual exploitation abroad.  The Modar organisation said groups in the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Pakistan and other countries were prepared to pay as much as $70 000 for a Tajik boy between the ages of 10 and 12.


*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Tajikistan

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 28 June 2021]


Tajik children and adults may be subjected to forced labor in agriculture, mainly during the country’s fall cotton harvest, but also in dried fruit production. The government may have subjected some citizens to participate in manual labor, such as cleaning roads and park maintenance. Some Afghan and Bangladeshi citizens were victims of forced labor in the country, including in the construction industry.


The government did not effectively enforce the law and many children under the age of 15 worked in the country. Many children younger than 10 worked in bazaars or sold goods on the street. The highest incidences of child labor were in the domestic and agricultural sectors and some children performed hazardous work.

There were reports that military recruitment authorities kidnapped children younger than 18 from public places and subjected them to compulsory military service to fulfill local recruitment quotas.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 8 July 2020]


According to the 2019 US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons report, the Tajik government has made significant efforts to improve enforcement of laws against forced labor, trafficking, and especially child labor during the cotton harvest season, though such practices have persisted to some extent. Safeguards against other forms of labor exploitation and hazardous working conditions are not well enforced. The scarcity of economic opportunity has compelled citizens to seek work abroad in large numbers, and these migrant workers are at risk of exploitation by human traffickers.

Tajik Officials Step Up Fight Against Human Trafficking

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL, Dushanbe, August 16, 2007

[accessed 28 December 2010]

The Dushanbe mayor's office has set up a special commission to fight human trafficking, which officials say has been increasing at an alarming rate.  Rajabmurod Tolibov, a member of the State Commission Against Human Trafficking, told RFE/RL's Tajik Service that most of the victims of human trafficking in Dushanbe are children and young women.

The Tajik General-Prosecutor's Office says that 24 criminal cases on the trafficking of children have been opened during the past seven months.  Some Tajik 80 women who had reportedly fallen victim to traffickers have been brought back from foreign countries in the past four years.

Human Trafficking Fuelled by Ignorance

Institute for War & Peace Reporting, News Briefing Central Asia, 23 July 2007

[accessed 28 December 2010]

[accessed 19 February 2018]

Gulchehra Mirzoeva, director of Modar, an NGO that works on human trafficking, says most migrants do not have the knowledge that they need to defend themselves abroad. Most of the million migrant workers who leave Tajikistan every year do not know the language of the country they end up in or its laws, she explains.  That leaves them wide open to exploitation, and the young are particularly at risk.  Mirzoeva believes that not enough is being done to raise awareness among young people of the dangers of human trafficking.  Criminal gangs are well aware of this ignorance, and use it to “lure young people into slavery”, said Firuz Saidov, an independent expert on social affairs.

Japan appropriates $1mn to combat human trafficking in Tajikistan

REGNUM News Agency, 07/06/2007

[accessed 28 December 2010]

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly also be accessible [here]

The source drew attention to the fact that the ILO and UNDP initiative is aimed at encouraging effort of all national partners in the migration sphere in order to increase protection of Tajik workers abroad and establish decent working conditions in the home country. According to the ILO, pilot projects will be conducted in the Rasht Valley (eastern Tajikistan), an economically underdeveloped area with the highest migration rate in the country.

According to the Tajik Labor and Social Protection Ministry, about 600,000 Tajik workers are employed abroad.

Human Trafficking Business Booming In Tajikistan

Source: Pravda.Ru, 30 September 2005

[accessed 28 December 2010]

Twenty-six women were returned to Tajikistan this summer as a result of lengthy negotiations with Dubai authorities, a Tajik deputy interior minister said.  No less than 40 Tajik women are still in white slavery in the United Arab Emirates, according to the official statistics.

The Curse of Cotton: Central Asia's Destructive Monoculture

International Crisis Group, Asia Report N°93, 28 February 2005

[accessed 23 June 2013]

[accessed 5 October 2016]

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS - The economics of Central Asian cotton are simple and exploitative.  Millions of the rural poor work for little or no reward growing and harvesting the crop.  Forced and child labor and other abuses are common.  Schoolchildren are still regularly required to spend up to two months in the cotton fields in Uzbekistan.  Despite official denials, child labor is still in use in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.  Students in all three countries must miss their classes to pick cotton. Little attention is paid to the conditions in which children and students work. Every year some fall ill or die.  Women do much of the hard manual labor in cotton fields, and reap almost none of the benefits. Cash wages are minimal, and often paid late or not at all.

Stephen Lewis speaking on gender and HIV/AIDS [TEXT]

Text of a speech by Stephen Lewis, UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, delivered at the University of Pennsylvania's Summit on Global Issues in Women's Health, Philadelphia, April 26, 2005

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 12 September 2011]

Domestic violence is another major issue in the region, and can be so severe that young wives in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan see no way out other than suicide - usually though the horrific method of self-immolation, which can result in terrible, if not fatal, injuries.

 [accessed 28 December 2010]

Essential Background: Overview of human rights issues in Tajikistan, Human Rights Watch, 31-12-2004

Human Rights Watch World Report 2005, 12 January 2005

[accessed 28 December 2010]

HUMAN TRAFFICKING - Human trafficking is a significant problem in Tajikistan. According to the International Organization for Migration, Tajikistan is a major country of origin for trafficked women and children. Tajik authorities have undertaken some positive steps to curb trafficking, including the creation of new anti-trafficking department in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In August 2003, Parliament adopted a bill criminalizing human trafficking, with sentences from five to fifteen years. In December 2003, a Tajik woman was sentenced to fourteen years in prison, and her property confiscated, following conviction for trafficking women into the sex industry in the United Arab Emirates. Four members of a trafficking group were convicted in April 2004, and another fourteen cases have been opened by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Tajikistan: Human Trafficking A Growing Concern

Antoine Blua with Sojida Djakhfarova of RFE/RL's Tajik Service, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL, 22 April 2004

[accessed 28 December 2010]

Madina remembers vividly her ordeal at the hands of a human trafficker. This Tajik single mother was desperate to secure a better life for herself and her two children. Responding to an offer from a man she didn't know, she left Tajikistan with the hope of a respectable job and a good salary.

"I was working in a local market [in Tajikistan]. One day a man talked to me and asked about my life. I told him that it was too hard, that I had a lot of problems, that I had two children and not enough money to feed them," she says. "I [am] divorced from my husband. Then he said: 'If you want you can come with me abroad. There are a lot of jobs [there] and I can help you to find one.' I believed what he said and I followed him."

Trafficking in women is a problem for Tajikistan

BBC Monitoring International Reports,  09 February 2002

[partially accessed 28 December 2010 - access restricted]

"The trafficking in women and girls from Tajikistan for sexual exploitation is currently a problem. There are cases in which some employment agencies, 'offering good jobs abroad', actually buy young women in order to sell them to foreign partners as prostitutes. These young women are turned into sex slaves once they arrive in another country. The new 'owners' take their passports away to prevent them from escaping. The women are raped, beaten and starved. Some women are paid for their sex services, others are given a chance to buy their freedom, while some are not paid at all," the report said, without giving any figures.

IOM Study Reveals Trends In Trafficking In Women From Tajikistan

CNEWS, 27 November 2001

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 12 September 2011]

[scroll down to August 17, 2001]

(International Organization for Migration – Dushanbe) An IOM study published today - "Deceived Migrants from Tajikistan: A study in Trafficking in Women and Children" - reveals that an estimated 1,000 women were trafficked from Tajikistan in the year 2000. Traffickers, usually Tajik women, rely on job promises carried by word of mouth, the inexperience of victims and the support of a series of well connected contacts, such as travel agencies and officials. The report also found that although less frequent, abandoned children are also trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 6 October 2000

[accessed 28 December 2010]

[32] The Committee is concerned about the absence of national adoption standards, particularly in relation to foster and adoptive family screening. The Committee is also concerned at the absence of mechanisms to review, monitor and follow up adoptions, and of statistics on foster care and adoption.

[50] The Committee is concerned at the increase in the prostitution and trafficking of children and women and the absence of an effective, comprehensive and integrated approach to prevent and combat these phenomena. The Committee is also concerned at the insufficient data and awareness of the phenomena of commercial sexual exploitation of children in Tajikistan.

Human Rights Overview

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 7 May 2020]

Tajikistan’s human rights record continues to deteriorate amid an ongoing crackdown on freedom of expression and the political opposition, as well as the targeting of independent lawyers, journalists, and even the family members of opposition activists abroad. Authorities’ use of torture to obtain confessions remains a serious concern. The government continues to block various websites with information critical of the government, subject human rights groups to harassment, including a law requiring nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to register all sources of funding from foreign sources, restricts media freedoms, and has enforced serious restrictions on religious practice. Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people are subjected to wide-ranging discrimination and homophobia. Domestic violence against women also continues to be a serious problem, despite the adoption of a law on domestic violence in 2013 that provided some human rights protections.


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 11 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – The majority of trafficking victims were female, single, and aged 20 to 26. Many were new arrivals to Dushanbe or Khujand from rural areas with little formal education. Child trafficking victims usually were in the care of extended family. Ethnic minorities were overrepresented among victims, particularly those of Slavic origin. Rural, uneducated, and abjectly poor communities were also particularly vulnerable.

Women and girls were trafficked from the country primarily for cheap domestic labor or sex work. Male trafficking victims were primarily used for labor abroad in agriculture, factories, or construction; some were held as slaves without pay.

Traffickers included former field commanders--so-called warlords‑ who rose to positions of power and wealth during the country's civil war. Others, including women, were powerful local figures who used their wealth to cultivate patron-client relationships throughout their community to create a trafficking network. Recruiters were also often individuals familiar to victims, such as neighbors, acquaintances, or relatives.

Victims commonly were recruited through false promises of employment. Advertisement of such work was conducted through social contacts; traffickers used their local status and prestige to help recruit victims. There also were cases of false wedding proposals and, on occasion, kidnappings in rural areas. Traffickers generally transported victims by air to the Middle East and by train to Russia and other former Soviet Union countries. Traffickers tightly controlled arrangements for travel and lodging and employed contacts among tourism agencies. They sometimes used forged documents to evade entry restrictions in destination countries. Victims commonly were not separated from their travel documents until arrival in the destination country. Debt bondage was a common form of control. There were also reports of male and female medical professionals trafficked from the country to Yemen to work at medical clinics for substandard wages; traffickers reportedly seized their travel documents and forced female medical personnel into prostitution.

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