© Simon Buxton / Anti-Slavery

Message from a student of the Jizzakh Pedagogical University

“I have not gone to pick cotton last year, neither did I pay anything. However, this time, representatives from the university administration and the university cotton headquarters annoy me by calling almost every day. Eventually, I just took my marriage certificate from the registry office and went to show it to the university administration.

The principal was out of office, but I could reach members of the university cotton headquarters. I showed them the marriage certificate and let them know that my family wouldn’t allow me to participate in the cotton harvest. Also, I let them know that my state of my health was also one of the reasons why I couldn’t go to the cotton harvest.

But none of them really listened to my explanations; none of them would want to take my marriage certificate seriously. Instead, they ordered me to send somebody else to the cotton fields on my behalf. I informed the officials that I did not have the money for that. At that point, one of the teachers took me aside to talked to me in private, saying that he could solve it for less money.

In simple terms, he would put me off the list of participating people, while telling the others that I had already been mobilized to cotton field. In return, he would simply take my money for himself. I do not know what to do with it this year. They won’t leave me alone to live a normal life after all…”