Each year that children are forced out to pick Uzbekistan's cotton, many will be injured, sickened, crippled and some will be killed. Their families will receive little or no compensation. A few reports have already emerged on the victims of the 2009 harvest.
Deaths by violence
At least one young person has been killed in a knife fight this year, as reported by Fergana.ru. Put young teens together in barracks over night with little adult supervision, and the consequences can be dire. Unlike the younger cotton-pickers, remember that children in the ninth grade and older are sent out to the fields for weeks or months at a time, to live in unheated field sheds.
Sexual violence and STDs
Uznews.net reported earlier this month that the rate of teen girls treated for VD in a Samarkand regional clinic has jumped, as has the number of teen pregnancies, phenomena which a local doctor ties to the two month- (or more) sojourn in the cotton field barracks with little adult supervision. Whether contracted through consensual relations or via rape, these cases, too, must be counted as part of the cost extracted by the state's forced labor policy. Sexual violence can also be suspected in the recent disappearance of a young teacher's college student from the Jizzakh province cotton fields, also reported by uznews.net.
Each year schoolchildren are hit by automobiles, or are injured or killed in tractor-pulled cotton wagons coming to or from the cotton fields, and this year is no different. Radio Ozodlik reported that a sixth-grader named Bekzod was killed October 21 in the Bukhara province. On October 26, cotton transport accidents claimed several lives, including a student, Hamid Khakimov, in the Khorezm province (killed in a bus accident on his way from the cotton fields) and a woman, age unreported, in Fergana province. In addition, a little girl was mauled to death by a wild dog while picking cotton in Andijan, Ozodlik also reported.