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Afghan Artist's Paintings Highlight Plight of Child Labor and Early Marriages

Spogmai Masood emphasizes that the development of a nation hinges on education. Her paintings reflect themes of education, peace, and the fight against child labor.
by Shaheen Afridi - 12 Jun, 2024 623
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Every year on June 12, the world observes the Day Against Child Labor to raise awareness about the exploitation of children. In Peshawar, this day was marked by an exhibition of paintings by Afghan artist Spogmai Masood from Kabul. Her work focuses on themes of child labor, early marriages, and women's rights.

Spogmai Masood emphasizes that the development of a nation hinges on education. Her paintings reflect themes of education, peace, and the fight against child labor. She believes that without peace, education cannot thrive, leading children to either work due to poverty or be drawn into negative paths.

Masood explained, "These paintings aim to show that a child given educational opportunities can lead a purposeful life. They work hard to move in the right direction and achieve their goals. Such children contribute to the development of their nation. Conversely, without guidance, they may fall into the wrong hands and become involved in illegal activities."

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Observed annually since 1999, June 12 aims to end child labor globally. According to the International Labor Organization's 2021 report, over 160 million children worldwide are engaged in child labor, depriving them of education, training, and basic rights.

In traditional Pashtun society, girls deprived of education often face early marriage. Masood addresses this issue in her paintings. "I have created works that highlight early marriage," she said. "One painting shows a school uniform on one side and a wedding dress on the other, accompanied by newspaper clippings about early marriages worldwide. This issue is not unique to Pakistan and Afghanistan but is prevalent in many countries. These children suffer many deprivations, and these problems perpetuate across generations."

The ILO notes that most low-income countries are deeply involved in child labor. Over 12 million underage children currently work in Pakistan, and a report by 'Save the Children states that 38% of children in Afghanistan are engaged in child labor.

Poverty forces many children in Pakistan and Afghanistan to work to support their families. Despite the ILO's efforts to reduce child labor, its incidence is rising in these countries each year.