As reported over the past five years, Afghanistan is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Internal trafficking is more prevalent than transnational trafficking. Men, women, and children are exploited in bonded labor in Afghanistan, where an initial debt assumed by a worker as part of the terms of employment is exploited, ultimately entrapping other family members, sometimes for multiple generations. There are entire Afghan families trapped in debt bondage in the brick-making industry in eastern Afghanistan. Most Afghan trafficking victims are children exploited in carpet making and brick factories, domestic servitude, commercial sex, begging, poppy cultivation, salt mining, transnational drug smuggling, and assistant truck driving within Afghanistan. Some Afghan families knowingly sell their children into sex trafficking, including for bacha bazi, including some government officials and security forces. There are reports that some law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and judges accept bribes from or use their relationships with perpetrators of bacha bazi to allow them to escape punishment. Opium-farming families sometimes sell their children to settle debts with opium traffickers. Children in orphanages overseen by the government, but run by NGOs, were sometimes subjected to trafficking. Members of the Shia Hazara minority group were victims of forced labor. Afghan returnees from Pakistan and Iran and internally displaced Afghans are vulnerable to exploitation in sex trafficking and forced and bonded labor.
Men, women, and children in Afghanistan often pay intermediaries to assist them in finding employment, primarily in Iran, Pakistan, India, Europe, or North America; some of these intermediaries force Afghans into labor or prostitution. Afghan women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking and domestic servitude primarily in Pakistan, Iran, and India, including through forced marriages in Iran and Pakistan. Afghan boys and men are subjected to forced labor and debt bondage in agriculture and construction, primarily in Iran, Pakistan, Greece, Turkey, and the Gulf states. Boys, especially those traveling unaccompanied, are particularly vulnerable to trafficking. Some Afghan boys are subjected to sex trafficking in Greece after paying high fees to be smuggled into the country. Reportedly, the Iranian government and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) coerce male Afghan migrants, including boys as young as 12, to fight in Syria in IRGC-organized and commanded militias, by threatening them with arrest and deportation to Afghanistan.
The government and armed non-state groups in Afghanistan unlawfully recruit and use children in combat and non-combat roles. Armed non-state groups, mostly the Taliban, but also including other non-state groups like the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISIS-K), account for most child recruitment and use. Insurgent groups forcibly recruit and use children as suicide bombers. The Taliban indoctrinate children using religious and military education and teach children to use small arms and deploy improvised explosive devices. Some families receive cash payments or protection in exchange for sending their children to the Taliban-run schools. Children from impoverished and rural areas, particularly those under Taliban control, are especially vulnerable to recruitment. The Afghan Local and National Police and government-supported armed groups use children in combat and non-combat roles, including as personal servants, support staff, and body guards. The Afghan National Army, NDS, and Afghan Border Police also recruit children, although to a lesser extent. There were reports that some members of the Afghan security forces and other groups of non-state actors sexually abuse and exploit young girls and boys.
There were reports of women and girls from the Philippines, Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Sri Lanka, and China subjected to sex trafficking in Afghanistan. Under the pretense of high-paying employment opportunities, some labor recruiting agencies lure foreign workers to Afghanistan, including from Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, Iran, Pakistan, and Tajikistan; the recruiters subject these migrants to forced labor after arrival.