Human Rights Groups Report Uzbek Children Working in Cotton Fields
The Uzbek German Forum for Human Rights has issued more reports on the cotton season in Uzbekistan with accounts of the use of forced child labor in the harvest, despite laws passed last year to end this practice. About 1.5-2. million schoolchildren between the ages of 10-16 have been forced to pick cotton each year from September-November, and so far, judging from accounts from various local human rights groups, this season is no different.
According to a report from the BBC's Uzbek Service, Tashkent-based human rights activist Elena Urlaeva reports that children in the Upper Chirchik District were being taken out of school to pick the cotton. When Urlaeva saw the fields were being guarded by troops from the mayor's office, the prosecutor's office and the police, she went around to the back of the field and crawled through the rows to reach the children and talk to them. But police seized Urlaeva's phone and deleted pictures she had been taking of the children working in the fields.
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