Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What follows are the words and images of G.M.B. Akash

To abolish child labour you have to make it visible.

For the last four years I have been working on child labor in Bangladesh.

Child labor has been forbidden in Bangladesh since 1992. In December 2005 I visited a garment factory in Narayanganj, which is the center of the garment industry in Bangladesh. I took a picture of the owner beating a 12-year-old boy because he had been too slow sewing t-shirts.

According to the U.N. Children’s Fund report, more than 6.3 million children under 14 are working in Bangladesh. Many of them work under very poor conditions; some of them even risk their life. Factory owners pay them about 400 to 700 taka (10 USD) a month, while an adult worker earns up to 5,000 taka per month.

It is widely known, yet for a long time nobody seemed to mind. With my work I want to confront the people with the problem of child labor and motivate the people who begin to think about it — in Bangladesh where children are employed and in the rich countries of the Western world where products are sold that have been produced by children.

My intention is not only to show the children at work as victims of bad bosses exploiting them, but I want to show the complexity of the situation: The parents who send their little boy to work in a factory because they are poor; the child who has to work to earn a living for the family; the boss of the factory who is being pushed by big garment companies to produce for less money; and the Western consumers as clients who buy cheap clothes.

I think it is impossible to abolish child labor completely in Bangladesh in a very short time, but I am sure it is possible to improve the working conditions for the children and to bring more from factory work into the schools.

More pics here

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