Schoolteacher, Turtkul district, Karakalpakstan region. November 2015

“-Is it compulsory to send someone else instead of yourself?

-No, it is voluntary…

-Voluntary [laughs] if you look at it that way…

-They say “If you go, go yourself, if not, then send someone else…”

-Who teaches your class, if you go to harvest the cotton?

-The way it works is, you have first flow where 2 people go, in the second flow 3 people get sent. The ones that return teach the classes.

-Well that’s the thing, can you not tell them that you would not go to harvest the cotton?

-Cotton is everywhere, it is for everyone, government made those orders, you will not go against the orders…

-Forced labor is prohibited by the Constitution article #37, Labor code article #7, additionally the Human Rights Declaration, International Labor Conventions. They all signed by the government. In Constitution #16 article, the enforcement is prohibited.  You have to know your own rights. You should tell them, that you would not harvest the cotton.

-But they would fire me from work.

-Right now, your rights are being violated.

-For example, the district director was fired because of that.

-Forced labor times… We can’t have any objections, because it all depends on principle. There are so many unemployed teachers. They would fire you and get another teacher instead.

-Did they tell you to tell inspectors that you are going by your own will?

-We had a staff meeting where they told us that.

-See? If you look at Law this would be considered forced labor.

-But who would you tell that too? You can’t tell that to District Department of National Education.

-We would lose the bread we are eating; we are afraid of that.

-You can’t tell anything to anyone.”