highlighting the lives of women and children cotton-pickers in Tajikistan will be included in an upcoming documentary, “One Day on Earth.”
The film project, to be released this coming Earth Day, April 22, is meant to capture the tribulations and celebrations of people from around the world by using video footage shot on a single day, October 10, 2010. The video produced by RFE/RL’s Tajik Service
examines the social and economic issues faced by Tajikistan’s cotton pickers, some of whom are as young as six years old, forced to work in the fields to support their families.
WATCH: 'Underpaid And Underage In Tajikistan's Cotton Fields'
“We received an email that [the producers of “One Day on Earth”] were collecting films from all over the world and were interested in using our footage from Tajikistan,” Sojida Djakhfarova, director of RFERL’s Tajik Service, says. “We were very happy to send them several links of our videos for them to choose, and they ended up using this video.”
Cotton, one of Tajikistan’s top two exports along with aluminum, is a controversial issue in Tajikistan, a country where domestic economic opportunities are scarce. Much of Tajikistan’s male workforce leaves for seasonal work in Russia, and remittances from abroad account for nearly half of Tajikistan’s GDP.
Djakhfarova says that the disappearance of Tajikistan’s male migrants has put pressure on the rest of the population. “Since the great labor migration, cotton is a place for women and children, especially underage children to work,” she says.
“There is a government ban on child labor but no one follows it,” Djakhfarova notes. “The idea for the video first emerged after Western organizations included Tajikistan on a list of countries whose cotton exports should be banned from purchase because of child labor.”
Because many cotton pickers rent the land that they work on, profits are usually very low. Families have to have every member involved in the process in order to make ends meet. Children are often taken out of school early or not allowed to continue their education for lack of family means.
“One Day On Earth” brings together video footage from individuals all across the globe; the submissions range from professionally filmed videos to images captured with cell phones. All in all, with the assistance and participation of 60 non-profit organizations, producers brought together 3000 hours of video shot in every nation on Earth on 10/10/10. The film covers an array of topics -- some uplifting, others less so. The initial success of the project has led to its continuation, with another day of filming occurring on November 11, 2011. Organizers hope to keep the project going through 2015.
-- Aemilia Madden