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30.8.2018 Child vendors selling drugs on the increase in Kabul
ByPajhwok Report On Aug 29, 2018 - 08:34
KABUL (PAYK/Pajhwok): Chewing gum is for 100 afghanis, cigarette for 50
afghanis and tablet from 500 to 1,000 afghanisthese are nicknames given
to hashish, heroin and Tablet K being sold by a 12-year-old boy on a
crowded Kabul street.

The child vendor earns from 500 to 1,000 afghanis from his business per
day in one of the most crowded areas falling in the jurisdiction of the
first police district of Kabul.

His alias name is Ahmad and he owns a handcart on which he apparently
sells drinks, but his costumers recognize him from some old and empty
bottles on his handcart covered with a red tarpaulin.

Ahmad says dozens of addicted and non-addicted customers buy narcotics
from him; but he sold the drugs under fake names such as chewing gum,
cigarette, tablet, etc.

The boy was found after a long search and to gain his trust, a packet of
chewing gum (heroin) and a dozen of cigarette (hashish) were purchased
from him, but he realized he was talking to the media.

 I know it is illegal, but this is our main income source to buy food for
ourselves, he said.

His interaction and movements showed he would not speak further about
selling drugs.

Like Ahmad many children aged 10 to 15 years old are involved in selling
drugs by fake names in Kabul.

Kabul police also confirm the number of children selling narcotics under
different names has drastically increased.

Easy access to buyers

The unprecedented increase in the population of drug addicts in every
street and road of Kabul has worried the residents who believe narcotics
smugglers and traders use children for being inexpensive.

Kabul police also confirm the increase in child vendors selling narcotics
and say they have detained such children in the 12th, 11th, fourth, second
and eight police districts.

Kota-i-Sangi and Pul-i-Surkh areas of Kabul are two popular areas for drug
addicts. Child vendors say they sell drugs to addicts in the mentioned
areas.

Some of these children claim armed men in military uniform supplied them
drugs in tinted vehicles at specific areas and times. But the children did
not know the identity and location of the armed men.

This scribe repeatedly met Milad (not real name), a 15-year-old boy who
sells drugs with his father and a small brother in Shahr-i-Naw area of
Kabul, in order to get a clue of the major drug dealers, but he used to
ignore talking about it and said he did not know them.

We have been doing this business for the past four to five years, but we
do not know from where the supplies come, they get changed with time, he
said.

Milads father and his little brother were apparently busy selling tea in
Shahr-i-Naw Park but Milad himself distributed drugs to addicts and
non-addicted customers and even supplied the drugs at residences.

He said he did not believe a child of his age could be engaged in drug
trade when he first started selling the substance. He said many children
were involved in the business in several parts of Kabul.

Most of these drug selling children are in Kota-i-Sangi, Pul-i-Sukhta,
Cinema-i-Pamir, Karta-i-Naw, Arzan Qimat, Shahr-i-Naw, Sara-i-Shamali and
in areas where most of drug addicts live.

After chatting with many child drug dealers, a family of five members
(father, mother, two sons and a daughter) was found addicted to drug and
involved in selling it in the fifth police district of Kabul.

Mirwais, 10, the youngest in the family, said: I would sell plastic bags
in the past and would hardly earn up to 30 to 40 afghanis, but now I can
earn 200 to 300 afghanis a day.

He said he and all his family members consumed opium at night and his
father and mother used heroin. He has to work until he is able to spare
one packet of heroin for his father and buy food for himself in a day.
Mirwais said other family expenses were provided by his sister and elder
brother.

However, attempts at finding his elder family members failed and Mirwaiss
father refused to talk and even warned: Go from here, you are a woman and
it is not good for you to be here.

Abdul Baqi Samandar, a civil society activist and head of a private
orphanage in Kabul, said he was imparting education to around 300 homeless
children and vendors.

Big mafia networks are behind this business and drug smuggling. Besides
making soft clients, they also sexually abuse these children, he said.

Samandar said the failure of the government and the international
community to wipe out the menace of narcotics was main reason behind the
current situation.

Domestic addiction, poverty and childrens access to drugs to make higher
incomes are other reasons behind the high number of children selling drugs
in the capital of the country, he said.

Murtaza Amiri, a social affairs expert and a psychologist, said child
venders did not know the dangerous consequences of selling narcotics.

Partnership or supervision?

Afghanistan joined the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1994
based on which the human rights are guaranteed under the countrys
Constitution and the government.

Despite witnessing an unprecedented increase in the number of drug addicts
over the past one decade, Afghanistan has no accurate data about child
labors and children selling chewing gums.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs says there were around 60,000
child labor in Kabul and 1.9 million nationwide according to a joint
survey by the Afghan government and the UN in 2008.

Najib Akhlaqi, head of the children section of the labor ministry, said a
fresh survey to know the current strength of child laborers could not be
conducted during the past one decade, therefore no updated statistics on
child laborers are available.

However, he estimated around three million children were at risk.

 

One of each 20 children convicted of crimes in juvenile rehabilitations
centers are involved in drug smuggling or dealing.

The most updated data on the Ministry of Justice website shows one among
each 20 child convicts and or those taken to juvenile rehabilitation
centers are involved in drug smuggling or dealing.

According to the ministry, 46 children under the age of 18 involved in
drug activities were arrested in Kabul and 86 in other provinces last
year. One among each 10 children is girl.

The data also show the number of children involved in drug smuggling and
dealing and those brought to the rehabilitation centers increased by 35
percent in 2017 over 2016.

Only 9 percent of children accused of drug crimes in 2017 were girls

The increasing number of child drug sellers has worried civil society and
human rights activists who say children are the easiest source for major
drug mafia networks to resell drugs.

They say these children, obligated by poverty, are also subjected to
different types of misuse and even captivity.

Samandar says no child is secure outside home in Afghanistan. I am
personally witness to children harassed and sexually abused by police.

Some also say police whose real job is to prevent law violations, are
involved in drug business and transferring in Kabul besides using the
drugs.

Abdul Khalil Bakhtyar, head of counternarcotics section in the Ministry of
Interior (MoI), said the current situation had paved a wide ground for drug
dealers and consumers to easily trade narcotics. But he said efforts were
underway to improve the situation.

He did not deny involvement of some police in the drug business and said:
We arrested 10 policemen who were involved in the illegal business of
drugs just in the first three months of this year.

On the other hand, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission
(AIHRC) in its recent report said child labors in Afghanistan were
vulnerable to abuses.

It said 56 percent of the children were satisfied with their work and
income, but the public and the officials concerned did not pay enough care
to child labors.

Some people believe dealing with the issue of children selling drugs is
the job of the government alone, but all people are responsible to play
their part in discouraging the phenomenon.

mds/ma


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