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The Khans

The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates than there are 749,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in Afghanistan. Within the country men, women and children are exploited in bonded labour, where an initial debt assumed by a worker as part of the terms of employment is exploited, ultimately entrapping other family members and sometimes for multiple generations. Some entire Afghan families are trapped in debt bondage in the brick-making industry in the Easter part of the country.  Zabit Khan and his family were living as refugees in Pakistan when he became ill and borrowed several thousand dollars from a kiln owner to cover his medical costs. He began working at the kiln but was not earning enough to pay off the debt. As his family grew, Zabit had to borrow more for food, medicine and other basic needs for his children. Seven years later an Afghan kiln owner bought the Khans’ debt and they began working for him back in Afghanistan. Khan, his wife and his 9 young children would spend 12 hours a day squatting in the dirt making line after line of clay bricks.