May 31st, 2011
01:37 PM ET

Many Afghans enslaved in bonded labor

Bonded labor is the most common form of enslavement in the world, human rights advocates say. In Afghanistan many children are entrapped, working off their families' debts.

As CNN's Phil Black reports, even with six of the male members of the family toiling, making bricks, it will take years for one Afghan man to pay off his debt.

soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. BigR

    Hey, at least they have a job.

    June 1, 2011 at 3:38 am | Reply
    • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle B.A., J.D., S.P.J.

      So we are in Afghanistan to protect the rights of women so that they can go to school and don't have to wear burkahs. Now it appears that after almost a decade almost a million rotated US Troops somehow they all failed to notice that many people in Afghanistan are bonded slaves. The "great leader" of Afghanistan who was reported on CNN as receiving "bags of money" from US Corporations used to "run the president's office" apparently also failed to notice the hundreds of thousands of slaves in his country. Clearly slavery in Afghanistan can only exist because the warlords and the government either do not interfere with the enforcement of slave contracts, or government officials enforce these contracts with US supplied weapons in exchange for the payment of a bribe, which is apparently necessary to get anything done in Afghanistan. Our stated goal was to get the leadership of Al Quaieda. But now it appears that they are hiding in Pakistan, which is our Ally (With and Ally like Pakistan, who needs enemies). Perhaps we should increase by tenfold our budgets for intelligence and for paying bribes to lower level Al Quaieda people, withdraw from Afghanistan, and simply launch drones and commando raids from several dozen new aircraft carriers that we could build and station off the coast of Pakistan. Then we could also stop flushing billions down the toilet by sending them to Pakistan where their intelligence service appears to spend most of its efforts protecting Al Quaieda leadership and defame the country that is preventing their economic implosion. This way we could reduce defense spending and foreign aid overall, while also building aircraft carriers that we would still have to use elsewhere after we capture or kill all of Al Quaieda's leadership. If the corruption and ineffectiveness of the Afghan government hasn't turned off the American Public yet, perhaps their support of slavery will. I'll bet that if you took a poll, most Americans support killing Al Quaieda leadership, but also have religious and moral difficulties supporting slavery. Didn't we fight some war over abolishing slavery a long, long time ago...before television and video games were invented? I recall hearing something about it in the fifth grade. Perhaps it's time for an Afghan National Bankruptcy law to be enforced by US Troops. Perhaps then we could have the support of the Afghan People instead of their crooked and duplicitious leaders who plan to leave Afghanistan the minute US troops do just like the former leaders of Viet Nam did. Before we decide to leave Afghanistan, we should tell the Afghan polititians that they either need to pass and enforce a national bankruptcy law, or we will make sure to leave them there when we leave. The Taliban also supported this bond slave system, so if the united States abolished slavery and enforced its abolition, the newly liberated Afghan people would be rushing to deliver Mullah Omar to us. It would seem that former Afghan bond slaves might just be grateful for this kind of American effort. They don't need to take a poll, it is safe to say that most people who are slaves would prefer to be free people. How in the hell can there be "democratic voting" if slaves must vote as their owners tell them to? Perhaps Obama could update that Emancipation Proclamation paper, I heard that they have a copy of it at the National Archives. Maybe Obama should send someone down there to get a Xerox copy of it, Then he can get it translated into Pashtun and tell Mr. Karzai that he needs to read it aloud. on Afghan Radio and order his government to enforce it. I seem to recall a bible story about this group of people who were enslaved making mud bricks.....perhaps we could give God a hand this time, and set them free? Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, B.A., J.D., S.P.J.

      June 6, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Reply
      • Silvia Quesada

        Well said!

        June 8, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
  2. R Baker

    Apropos to another historical tale of family & child slavery and the making of bricks. If your listening Osama; what you could have, and should have done in September 2001 was set your own people free. Free from hard task masters in their own lands who hold your families and children in the grip of slavery...making bricks. Now that would have been worth fighting for. You missed your opportunity Zero sama Ben laden and worsened the fate of those you claim to care about. Way To Go.

    June 1, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Reply
  3. tr

    Okay, CNN do you have a plan of action to end this?

    June 1, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Reply
  4. Intell

    This is a great opportunity to use their minds and work together to develope a business or brick making process that can increase their income .
    Also working years, years to pat off the debt, This is the same process of the 30 yr mortgage. Over time the mortgage has gone from 10 yrs to 15 yrs to 25 yrs to 30 yrs. The borrower will always be enslaved to the lender.
    Until they are the owner

    June 2, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Reply
    • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle B.A., J.D., S.P.J.

      Since when is taking 30 years for five members of your family to work for some rice and four, while living in a mud hut, working at hard labor making bricks to food to pay off a $150 loan like paying off a 30 Year Mortgage and living in a 3,000 square foot house with all Stainless Steel Appliances and a swimming pool, while being forced to eat at a Steak House on the weekends and taking a two week paid vacation each year to the Bahamas?

      Men eat better and live in better conditions in US Prisons than these brick makers do. Perhaps we should consider 30 years of hard labor making bricks, or picking cotton for people who default on their mortgages?

      These people could save more money living in debtor's prisons than if they rented apartments. They wouldn't have to wast money on steak, we could feed them Gruel like in that Dickens book, Oliver Twist.

      If we do this and abolish Medicare and Social Security, we can achieve the goals of the T Party. If Mitt Romney adopts this platform, perhaps that Republican leaders will overlook "Romney-care". Sir Arthur Conan Doyle B.A., J.D., S.P.J.

      June 6, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Reply
  5. Herman Morris

    Why dont we act instead of complain. A large brick manufacturing company with modern machinery should hire these people and put them to work operating the machinery. They can make enough briks to pay off any debts and force the price of the briks up to the present employers to make a profit to pay a livable wage to the workers to rid them of any debt so they wont be enslaved. ARE THEIR ANY INVESTERS WHO HAVE THE FINANCES TO INVEST IN SUCH AN OPERTUNITY TO MAKE CONVERT PEOPLES TOILS INTO PROFITABLE ENTERPRIZES. TRAIN HAND LABORERS INTO MACHINE OPERATORS. THE PYRAMIDS COULD HAVE BEEN BUILT MUCH FASTER AND NOT USED SLAVE LABOR. LETS GROUP UNDER CNN's coordination and retrain slave labor into contractors operating machinery to make those bricks! MODERN MACHINERY REPLACED THE COTTON PICKIN SLAVES IN THE USA.

    June 3, 2011 at 4:45 am | Reply
    • selena

      you ARE familiar with a thing called the industrial revolution?
      it meant traditional 'homesourcing' laborers could not compete with factories so they were forced to beg for a job in one of those factories. the result was massive unemployment and as a result factory-owners who could abuse their workers as much as they wanted.
      what i'm trying to say: a factory needs less workers then this kind of traditional brick-making. which would be a big improvement if that means dad would then do the work he now does with his whole family, while still getting the same salary. it is however far more likely that machine would be manned by an underpaid overworked child, given the general disregard for child-labor laws in that community.
      in that case these families would actually be worse of: less work, less pay, less change of ever paying of those debts

      June 3, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Reply
  6. tim

    nothing wrong with a little brick masonry, but using kids to pay off the parent debts is sad, i blame the parents for that mess, if the parents happening to die shouldnt they be release from their debt and bondage..just a thought

    June 3, 2011 at 11:11 am | Reply
    • selena

      yeah, how totally irresponsible from those parents that they'd want to feed their family or buy medicine for sick family-members.

      June 3, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Reply
  7. C.Cantu

    Unless Muslims convert to a religion other than Islam nothing is going to change. Islam has a distorted morality and a lack of universal ethical and moral values, many unjust practices are justify under the rule of Muslim clerics (ayatollahs, muftis, mullahs, ullemas, imans, sheiks, etc.) they are the main instigators and promoters of violence around the world, justifying all kinds of atrocities under their distorted Islamic dogmas.

    June 4, 2011 at 10:07 am | Reply
    • ArchieBanker

      The main instigators?Are you talking about 'the' muslims or the United States of America?

      A 700 billion dollar defense budget serves only one outcome,offense.

      June 4, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Reply
    • James M.D

      yeah because being christian or jewish is sooooooo much better? Lets make one thing clear, If you are 18yrs old or older and still believe in jesus, mohammad, abraham, moses, cookie monster etc're a waste of life. EVERY country should "convert" to being completly secular..
      and dont even start with buddhists and hindus are cool and bla bla..they're STUPID too. Read a science book, "god" damn it

      June 7, 2011 at 10:41 am | Reply
    • Yoga

      Tim thanks for your sevirce, brother. I wish the answers were easy as well, and I too feel I have unfinished business left behind from when I went to Afghanistan. Sometimes I wish I could go back and try to help finish what we started Mahatma Ghandi put it best when he said, When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it always. Eventually, the tide will turn, and progress will triumph over oppression. We will have made a difference. We will have helped. But it will take time. We just have to be willing to make the time and be patient.

      March 4, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Reply
  8. Roman Gil

    What Economic Recovery? Let's Get Doped Into Foreign Affairs to Forget the Failing Economy.

    In May, the American economy added the insignificant number of 38,000 jobs. America is overpopulated with over 311 million people (nobody knows how many illegal aliens) and cannot support its own population, but millions of new illegal and legal immigrants arrive each year. There is no industrial plan to bring back the millions of jobs and industries that global corporations exported and continue to export.
    My blog has solutions.

    According to the US government's own statistics, 36% of men 16 to 64 years old are out of the work force. Most don't count because they are not looking for work. It takes money to look for work, after a while people vanish from the unemployment statistics.

    In my blog, I loaded George Washington's "Farewell Address" advising America. I highlighted the parts that we are violating. Communist China is following this advice and we are committing the folly of ignoring it. My blog contains solutions to our problems that the politicians have failed to implement.

    While we drop bombs in Muslim countries financed with debt money, the Communist Chinese announced that they are buying large amounts of European government debt and that they opened a direct railroad linking China with Antwerp, Belgium in Western Europe. Europe is now China’s largest market. Europe is now globalized like America with their global corporations exporting their industrial base to China. Last year China announced that they have a controlling interest in Iraqi oil and are receiving oil from their Iraqi oil fields. The Communists understand capitalism better than we do and that economic power controls governments.

    In the USA, only 9% of the economy is industrial. 76% of the jobs created during the "recovery" pay $9 or less per hour with little or no benefits. 47% of American households are too poor to pay income taxes. The Federal Government must beg and borrow $1.65 trillion dollars this year. Many States and local governments are bankrupt. Local Property taxes are crushing the middle class in many States invaded by illegal aliens. Their children consume Medicaid and school services. Bankrupt States like New York have dumped welfare Medicare costs on the counties.

    In Europe from Spain to Greece, people are protesting that they have no future because there are no jobs. Europe like America exported its industrial base to China and Third World cheap labor countries. European governments are as deep in debt as America and their economies are failing under globalization.

    Obama got us involved into a third Muslim war to get us deeper into the Israeli-Muslim conflict that caused us to inherit Israel's enemies. The "war of Terror" has cost us in ten years $5 trillion dollars and now a powerful special interest group of war contractors will keep a permanent debt financed war going until we are in debt slavery.

    Roman Gil

    June 4, 2011 at 11:49 am | Reply
  9. Rahul Iyer

    What is the solution to end this slavery?...worldwide? We are combating various issues here:


    This is not necessarily a religious issue. The issue is how people interpret a religion...a religion of their choice.

    While it may seem simple to just give handouts of US$100+ each to pay off the loans, as this number is low by Western standards, this will not work. Throwing money at this will not work. We need to educate people. We need to find the root cause. Slavery is the result, and a symptom, of something else.

    June 5, 2011 at 12:42 am | Reply
  10. Scott

    Who care what happens in Afghanistan. Its not our country. Why are we trying to build up a country that nobody cares about while our own country is going down the toilet. Vote for the ONLY candidate that will end the wars and get us out of the 'foreign country building' business, Ron Paul 2012. No other candidate will end these wars as well as lower gas prices.

    June 5, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Reply
  11. Zuhal Qayoomi

    Yes dears who cares what happens in Afghanistan, if this country is not going to be built economically there will be no educations if there will be no educations so wars still be going on and the rest of the world will not be safe and in peace.
    so better to think over and not to forget this country because once was forgotten and the result was 9.11 attacks.
    i am a women who suffered a lot in this country.

    June 6, 2011 at 8:08 am | Reply
    • Scott

      Tha Afghans had nothing to do with 9/11. Osama and his band of perpetratrors were responsible. They were not in Afghanistan or Iraq, but in Pakistan instead. Our troops have done an excellent job thus far and I stand behind them 100%; however they deserve to know what their purpose is going forward. So again, I ask, why are we in Afghanistan? The politicians are trying to scare Americans into thinking that we need to be there just like they did in Iraq, and using terrorism and stories like this one as an excuse. We don't need to be there for any reason. America has enough to worry about with soaring debt, rising unemployment, and a crumbling housing market. We'll end up in another great depression if we keep spending what we don't have on these wars.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:58 am | Reply
    • Silvia Quesada

      I wonder, are you a human being? I cannot believe that there exist people like you, who don't care about others miseries! This situation is not fair, in India, China, USA, Latinoamérica, Africa... anywhere!

      June 8, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Reply
  12. Silvia Quesada

    It's too sad listening to such unfair stories! It makes me feel so angry! Is there a way to stop such abuse? The owner of that brick enterprise is getting rich at the cost of inoccent people. It's not possible! The owner of the brick company should be working by himself. Someone should make him a slave, as he is doing with those persons, and make him work for years and years, making 1000 bricks per day... that´s what he deserves! We could help those families to pay their debts. It's less than 2000 dollars! I cannot believe all their families are working for such a low income, 4 dollars per day! It's going to take years of hard work. That's not fair!

    June 8, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Reply
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