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Children, Pensioners At Work In Uzbekistan's Cotton Fields

As the annual cotton harvest gets under way in Uzbekistan, officials have ordered people of all ages and professions to contribute to the harvest effort. Although compulsory labor for anyone under 18 is officially banned, school-age children were seen working in the fields alongside adults, including pensioners. Medical students and doctors were also ordered to pick cotton, leaving some clinics closed to patients. (RFE/RL's Uzbek Service)

A young boy collects cotton in the Tashkent region. Underage labor is officially banned, but continues nonetheless.
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A young boy collects cotton in the Tashkent region. Underage labor is officially banned, but continues nonetheless.

Many Uzbeks are ordered by their employers to temporarily give up their normal work and pick cotton instead. Medical students report being forced to sign documents saying they are going to the fields "voluntarily, in order to help his motherland to thrive."
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Many Uzbeks are ordered by their employers to temporarily give up their normal work and pick cotton instead. Medical students report being forced to sign documents saying they are going to the fields "voluntarily, in order to help his motherland to thrive."

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The compulsory work is carried out by pensioners as well as working adults of all backgrounds.
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The compulsory work is carried out by pensioners as well as working adults of all backgrounds.

Rights advocates have long criticized Uzbek authorities for ordering citizens to carry out forced labor in the cotton fields.
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Rights advocates have long criticized Uzbek authorities for ordering citizens to carry out forced labor in the cotton fields.

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Medical professionals from the Samarkand region participate in the cotton harvest.
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Medical professionals from the Samarkand region participate in the cotton harvest.

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