20 km east of Dacca, the periphery reveals many brick factories where men, women and very often children work in difficult and dangerous conditions. With about 11,000 brickworks across the country, Bangladesh is struggling to meet the construction demands of a rapidly growing population. Armies of workers including women and children suffer the hard manual labor, in extremely poor conditions, for merely $1-2 per day. Working 12-18 hours, without access to fresh water or decent food, children as young as 4 contribute to the monumental task of producing 1500 bricks per person per day. Families live in makeshift camps near the factories breathing air filled with arsenic and particles of burnt plastic. Despite directives from the UN, holding multinationals accountable for workers rights and good labor practices all along the manufacturing chain, the reality on the ground is rather substandard.
Several associations have launched campaigns to heighten awareness around what is essentially a form of slave labor. Unions, ONGs and other human rights organizations are staging events to inform local populations and mobilize workers in order to improve working conditions, increase pay rates and above all, eliminate child labor which leaves kids uneducated, exploited and trapped in poverty.
Author: Alain Schroeder is a Belgian photojournalist born in 1955. In 1989 he founded Reporters (http://www.reporters.be), a well-known photo agency in Belgium. He has illustrated over thirty books dedicated to China, Persia, the Renaissance, Ancient Rome, the Gardens of Europe, Thailand, Tuscany, Crete, Vietnam, Budapest, Venice, the Abbeys of Europe, Natural Sites of Europe, etc. Belgian titles include, « Le Carnaval de Binche vu par 30 Photographes », and « Processions de Foi, Les Marches de l’Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse ». Publications include National Geographic, Geo, Paris-Match,… He has won many international awards and participated in numerous exhibitions worldwide. He is represented in Belgium by Reporters and in Paris by the photo agency HEMIS.