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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                                   

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.


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]

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text 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 aspect(s) of street life are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got there, how they survive, and how some manage to leave the street.  Perhaps your paper could focus on how some street children abuse the public and how they are abused by the public … and how they abuse each other.  Would you like to write about market children? homeless children?  Sexual and labor exploitation? begging? violence? addiction? hunger? neglect? etc.  There is a lot to the subject of Street Children.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  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.


Tajik Street Children Face Daily Struggle

Institute for War & Peace Reporting IWPR Central Asia - Central Asia, RCA Issue 349, 20 Nov 05

[accessed 28 July 2011]

Hamza sleeps in his ragged and dirt-encrusted clothes in a bid to keep the cold at bay. His arms are thin and covered with new sores and old scars. He has never been to school and cannot remember a day without work or responsibility.  But he is the sole breadwinner in his family, and even if he is caught by the authorities and sent to a state boarding school, he will have no choice but to run away and start working again.


*** ARCHIVES ***

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]

CHILDREN - Education is compulsory until age 16 and public education was free and universal. The law was not enforced and, while most children were enrolled in school up to the mandatory secondary level, actual attendance was estimated to be lower because children supplemented family income by working in the home or in informal activities.

SECTION 6 WORKER RIGHTS – [d] Child labor remained a problem, and the government neither effectively enforced child labor laws nor strengthened existing regulations on acceptable working conditions for children.

The minimum age for children to work is 16, although children may work at age 15 with local trade union permission. By law children under the age of 18 may work no more than 6 hours a day and 36 hours per week. Children as young as seven may participate in household labor and agricultural work, which are separately classified as family assistance. Many children under 10 worked in bazaars or sold goods on the street.

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]

[28] The Committee is concerned at numerous and continuing reports of ill-treatment of persons under the age of 18 by the militia, including psychological intimidation, corporal punishment and torture. The Committee is also concerned that victims of such treatment are largely from vulnerable groups, such as children living and/or working on the streets; and that fear of reprisals and inadequate complaints procedures discourage children and their parents from filing complaints.

[30] The Committee is concerned about the large number of children, especially children with disabilities, who are abandoned or are otherwise deprived of a family environment. It is also concerned that foster care, or other forms of family-based alternative care, are not sufficiently developed and available, and that, as a result, children are placed in institutions which, owing to lack of resources, provide children with very low quality housing and care. Further, the Committee is concerned at the absence of effective mechanisms for children to communicate concerns and complaints about their placement. Moreover, in the light of article 25 of the Convention, the Committee is concerned at the inadequate system to review placement, monitoring or follow-up of the situation of children in institutions.

[42] The Committee is seriously concerned at the deterioration in the quality of education, especially infrastructure, teaching and curricula. The Committee is concerned at declining pre-school enrolment and the persistence of high drop-out, repetition, and absenteeism rates in primary and secondary schools.

[48] The Committee is concerned that the negative effects of the current economic crisis have resulted in an increasing number of children dropping out of school and taking up work.

Tajik Children Labour to Feed Families

Aslibegim Manzarshoeva - Central Asia, RCA Issue 550, 18 Sep 2008

[accessed 28 July 2011]

Rustam has to get up at dawn to drive the hundreds of animals under his care out to pasture. At the age of 14, he should be in school, but he has little other choice – he is one of the main breadwinners for a family of nine.  It is a familiar story in Tajikistan, where children in rural areas routinely have to work alongside adults to keep their households afloat. Increasingly, urban children from poor families are also doing manual jobs instead of going to school, raising concerns about what future these uneducated adolescents will have in a grim employment situation.  The young shepherd lives in Faizabad, a district some 50 kilometres east of the Tajik capital Dushanbe, and looks after the sheep, goats and cattle belonging to all 160 households in the village of Dubeda.  It is a long trek up to the mountain pastures – one-and-a-half hours each way – and Rustam stays there with the herd until seven in the evening. To sustain him through the day, he usually only has some bread, tea and “chakka”, the local soured milk, and occasionally cooks some potatoes or rice. He earns a few pennies a month for each animal in the herd, but if one of them dies the owner will demand around 100 dollars in compensation.

RISE IN URBAN CHILD LABOUR - Even so, children at work are a common sight in Tajikistan. While children of both sexes help their families out in the countryside, the emergence of urban workers – most of them boys – is a more recent phenomenon. Young lads, some of them street children, can be seen pushing heavy barrows around the markets, washing cars by the roadside, changing banknotes into smaller denominations, and corralling passengers into the shared minibus taxis which have all but replaced other forms of public transport. Many of the kids hanging around markets to earn tiny sums of money have come into town from the surrounding countryside, where their fathers may have joined the exodus to Russia. They live on the street and are often near-illiterate because they have missed so much school time.  Just 14, Anvar has not been to school in the last two years. Instead, he is a conductor on a minibus taxi, collecting fares for the driver. He explains that he has no time for studying as he has to support his mother, elder sister and two younger brothers. His father went off to Russia three years ago. The first year he sent money home regularly but that has dried up since then and returning migrants say the man has a new wife and a baby.  Like many boys forced to take jobs, Anvar has a strong sense of his responsibilities as the senior male breadwinner in the household.

Tajik street children help each other

Roxana Saberi, BBC News, Tajikistan, 18 December 2006

[accessed 28 July 2011]

BACK TO SCHOOL - Members of the youth committee reach out to these children by telling them they do not have to work and live on the streets, and that going back to school is the key to a better future.  Their efforts seem to be working.

Many street children have left their jobs washing cars or peddling goods in the bazaar and have gone back to school.  Several have joined the youth committee, where they receive $20 a month and learn about computers, languages and leadership skills.  The committee has expanded from 20 children two years ago to around 60 today, organiser Sukhrob Kurbonov says.

"Street kids have their own rules and don't allow just anyone close to them," he says.  "Because these kids we work with were from that group, they can speak to them more easily and get information from them. We wanted to know why these kids start stealing and begging and what problems they face."

Protecting and Assisting Street Children

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, Kurgan-Tyube, 20 July 2005

[accessed 10 March 2015]

Ten-year-old Parvina can neither read nor write, because she has never attended school.  "I can count up to 500," she said proudly, adding that she learnt to do so when she started working, selling plastic bags in the city's main market.  She was making around US $ 1 a day.  Her younger brother Akram earns about $ 3 a day..  Parvina gives most of the money to her mother.  "We live on the money they make.”

Interview with Head Of UNICEF

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, Dushanbe, 9 July 2003

[accessed 10 March 2015]

Q: There are a lot of street children in Tajikistan. What are you doing to improve their conditions?

A: Some of the figures show that some of the street children are not living in the street.  They are with families, but because of poverty they are often sent to the streets to either work or beg.  So the street children are not abandoned as such and are supporting their families.  The problem is that children in the streets are more vulnerable and at risk of being abused and exploited.  Especially, they are at more risk of being in conflict with the law, starting with petty crimes, drug abuse and trafficking.

World Food Program - Tajikistan

Foreign Agricultural Service FAS, U.S. Department of Agriculture USDA, April 14, 2008

[accessed 28 July 2011]

COUNTRY OVERVIEW - Many families are unable to provide their school-age children with clothing and shoes.  This is creating increasing numbers of street children, who are easy prey for criminals, drugs, and child-labor abuse scams.  Tajikistan used to boast a literacy rate of almost 100%.  After the collapse of the former Soviet Union and the grueling civil war, the educational system is now in disarray.  Primary school attendance rates have fallen to about 65%.

Nasiba's Wedding Song

Firuz Barotov, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL -- broadcast on 29 and 30 April, 2005

[accessed 28 July 2011]

According to UNICEF, 18 % of Tajik children between the ages of five and 14 are working.  Many of them are homeless.  The number of children grows in the summer.  They come to the capital from different villages [around Tajikistan] to earn money.  Street children live a dangerous life, and the police use force against them.  As a young girl, Nasiba did not go to school.  She remembers carrying huge bags of fruit and vegetables to the market every morning and then back again at night.  She was also responsible for taking her little brothers and sisters to the market or school.  The police, she says, would continually harass her for hanging around the town.

British Embassy Opens Its Doors - Personal Testimony of Children

Zorica Zafirovska, Pocketpedia of Human Trafficking in the 21 Century, 2008 -- ISBN 978-9989-57-585-3

[accessed 8 January 2017]

[page 65 - stories and reports]

KHURSHED’S STORY - Khurshed is 12 years old and is from Dushanbe.  His family consisted of 2 younger brothers and a mother who started drinking when his father left for Russia.  When his mother gets drunk, Khurshed runs away from home, and sleeps in basements and doorways.  He sells plastic bags in the market for which he earns about 2 somoni per day.  But sometimes he loses even this money when he is robbed by older boys or the militia.

A Community Response to HIV/AIDS [DOC]

[access information unavailable]

Estimates of international and national experts indicate that there are in all about 10 000 street children in the country.  Many of these use drugs and some of them are engaged in prostitution.  The majority of them has no idea about safe sexual behaviors and consequently is especially vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Street Children - Tajikistan",, [accessed <date>]