Samarkand, the second largest city in Uzbekistan with 320,000 inhabitants, is located 290 km south-west of the capital Tashkent.
With a poverty rate of 21%, many children live in homes that are often very basic, with no electricity, gas, running water or heating. These children are very vulnerable to exploitation: many do not go to school but work to earn some money for the family.
Since 2006, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Samarkand.
In addressing child labour, the city of Samarkand banned children under 15 from picking cotton, however, thousands are still forced to do so every year. Child labour is a leading cause for children missing school in Samarkand; at nearly 5%, the city is above the national average for out-of-school children
The consequences of a poor educational background can be profound, from slower progress in learning and worse prospects for future employment, to restricted social and emotional development, increased vulnerability to abuse and exploitation.
Samarkand has the highest rate of child marriage in Uzbekistan. Almost 5% of all marriages in the region involved children, constituting 36% of all child marriages in the country. Almost all of these are girls.
Early marriage violates a girl’s right to education. When girls marry young, they miss out on developing the skills, knowledge, and confidence they need to find a decent job in their future. As a result, it becomes very difficult for girls to escape the vicious cycle of poverty.