A woman covered by a burqha (traditional Afghan wear) passes by the "Roze Sharif" holy shrine. This place is home to countless white pigeons; the pigeon being the symbol of freedom in Afghanistan. Mazar-e-Sharif, May 2015. © Ako Salemi
Zahir, is a 9-year old boy who also labors as a brick-maker. At a rate of 600 bricks a day, working 6 days a week, Zahir's annual brick production is an easy, if sobering calculation. But figuring out the cost of this work to Zahir is much more difficult: the cost of a child bonded to labor at such a young age is paid over the course of lifetime through the loss of health, education and opportunities. Suburb of Mazar-e-Sharif, May 2015. © Ako Salemi
Only 6% of births are officially recorded in Afghanistan. As a result, the majority of Afghan children have neither an official identity nor a nationality. They are invisible in the eyes of society. Mazar-e-Sharif, May 2015. © Ako Salemi
Jabbar is a 19-year-old heroin addict. He poses in front of a wall while other addicts consume various of drugs around him. Not only is Afghanistan the global leader in opium production, but Afghans are now the leading consumers of their own opium. The number of Afghan drug addicts now stands at nearly three million, up from less than 500,000 just two years ago.
Suberb Mazar-e-Sharif, May 2015. © Ako Salemi
Darul Aman Palace was once one of Afghanistan's most majestic and ornate buildings. It is now derelict, humbled from its 1920s splendour by years of civil war. Kabul, May 2015. © Ako Salemi
Bricks are among the manufactured goods that are most commonly produced through forced labor in the country. The making of bricks is conducted by a mix of men and women, adults and children, with both migrant and local workers.
Suburb of Mazar-e-Sharif, May 2015. © Ako Salemi
A sand mining company. A small number of industrial companies improved during the last decade. The suburb Mazar-e-Sharifi, May 2015. © Ako Salemi
Mastaneh, a 55 year-old women's rights activist. In June 2014, the government rejected recommendations from UN member countries to abolish the prosecution of women for so-called moral crimes. Other setbacks for women's rights included a continuing series of attacks on, threats toward, and assassinations of high-profile women, including police-women and activists. Despite the outrage, the government failed to respond with meaningful measures to protect women at risk. Mazar-e-Sharif, May 2015 © Ako Salemi
A sewing shop for women. Under the Taliban regime, women were forced to cover themselves completely from head to toe, even covering their eyes. Nowadays, women can theoretically wear whatever they want—but wearing such a dress in public is not common. Most women wear modern clothes inside their family gathering or among other women but more traditional clothes out in the streets. Kabul, May 2015. © Ako Salemi
Some women are more bold however. Especially in Kabul, they feel about to roam in public without fear of being arrested or beaten. Some individuals even dare to wear high heels, as seen above. Kabul, May 2015. © Ako Salemi
A pair of men in Mazar-e-Sharif, May 2015. © Ako Salemi
A man smokes cannabis on the streets of Kabul. Cannabis appears to be the second most prevalent drug used in the urban centers of Afghanistan. An estimated 7.5% of Afghan adults use illegal drugs. © Ako Salemi
After years of war, security remains a distant concept in Afghanistan. In Kabul, for example, there are several bombings per month. Every large shop and company employs security guards (armed to the teeth) to keep things safe. Kabul, May 2015. © Ako Salemi
Afghanistan: The Color Awakens © Ako Salemi
Recycling plastic goods has improved during last decade. In fact, it is one of the most environment friendly acts one can see in Afghanistan. Mazar-e-Sharif, May 2015. © Ako Salemi
Sanjar, 30 years old, is a beekeeper. He is also gay, though hides this fact from his neighbors. LGBT people living in Afghanistan face unique legal and social challenges. Homosexuality and cross-dressing are considered serious crimes in Afghanistan, with possible punishments including the death penalty. Mazar-e-Sharif, May 2015. © Ako Salemi
Farshad, 10 years old, works in a traditional cafe. He quit school to help his family. Some of the families believe that working from a young age is not harmful for children and it helps them in their future life. Kabul, May 2015. © Ako Salemi
A chef takes a brief break from his job at a traditional restaurant. Many people take their lunch at restaurants in the city of Kabul. © Ako Salemi
Masoud, 8 years old, sells wool. He usually starts his work shift after school. UNICEF estimates that up to 30 percent of primary-school-aged children work. Many are the sole source of income for their families. These boys and girls are being forced to work not only by employers but by their parents. Mazar-e-Sharif Bazaar, May 2015. © Ako Salemi
Afghanistan: The Color Awakens.
Mazare Sharif, Afghanistan, May 2015. © Ako Salemi