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Child vendors selling drugs on the increase in Kabul

Child vendors selling drugs on the increase in Kabul

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On
Aug 29, 2018 - 08:34

KABULinfo-icon (PAYK/Pajhwok): ‘Chewing gum is for 100 afghanis, cigarette for 50 afghanis and tablet from 500 to 1,000 afghanis…these 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.

Milad’s 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 Mirwais’s 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 societyinfo-icon activist and head of a private orphanage in Kabul, said he was imparting educationinfo-icon 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 children’s 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?

Afghanistaninfo-icon joined the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1994 based on which the human rights are guaranteed under the country’s 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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