Valerie Leonard

2017 - 2018

Dhaka, Bangladesh; Chittagong, Bangladesh

There are many aluminium factories in Bangladesh where different types of pots and pans are made from recycled and melted aluminium. To produce an aluminium pan, bowl, kettle or kettle, this aluminium must first be melted, transformed into ingots, rolled and then cut into discs. Then comes anodizing, a chemical process to prevent objects from rusting. The aluminium discs are dipped in sulphuric acid and then caustic soda. The work is dangerous and toxic. The discs are then formed with the force of the arms on rotating machines to obtain the kitchen utensils. The final touch is the sandpaper polishing that you attach to your hands and feet.

Such an industry creates a huge source of employment. Many of these workers are children under the age of 15. Many factory owners often prefer to employ children because they are cheaper and more obedient than adults. They work more than 10 hours a day for a salary of €1.50 a day. The lives of these working children are hard, but compared to homeless children on the street, they are considered luckier. Without an education and trapped in low-paying jobs that link them more to the cycle of poverty, they are likely to work all their lives in aluminium factories.

In 2013, Bangladesh made moderate progress in its efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour. According to the 2006 Labour Act, the legal minimum age for working is 14 years. However, 93% of children work in the informal sector, in small factories, on the streets, in home-based businesses or at home. The enforcement of labour laws is virtually impossible. Many children are still doing dangerous work in the country.

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    Lunch break on old tanker wheels in aluminium factories.

    The first step for the production of aluminium kitchen utensils: Cast metal.

    Imran, 13, lost in his thoughts. The gesture remains fast, precise, immutable, robotized. No room for error, otherwise there’s an accident.

    Imran (13), Nizam (14) and Hossain (15), work in an aluminum pot factory. They make 1$ a day.

    Hard and dangerous work in an aluminium factory. Workers earn less than $3 a day. Anodising aluminium is essential to create a corrosion and wear resistant layer. The women dip aluminium foils in sulphuric acid and then in caustic soda which will rid the metal of any trace of previous anodisation. The unbearable smell burns the eyes and throat

    Between hell and heaven... purgatory... For 35 years, Saliha has been dipping aluminum foil in sulfuric acid and caustic soda. Process necessary to anodize (create a protective layer) aluminum foil before transforming it into pots, pans or pans. The smell is unbearable. With a simple scarf on her face, she works all day for a salary of 3€ per day.

    Rahidul is 20 years old. He started working in the aluminum plant six years ago. He is now a "senior" and earns $2.5 a day.

    One never stops at the aluminium pot factories in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In less than 20 seconds a flat aluminium foil becomes a pan. Men work 10 hours a day for 2 or 3 € a day. The children work for 1€ per day. Face, torso and arms covered in aluminum dust.

    In aluminium factories, power cuts are frequent. Nobody can work anymore. Zahirul, Toslam, Jomin and Rohul take advantage of this imposed break to play in the street and catch up for a moment their lost childhood.

    Medical studies have shown that exposure to aluminum levels can cause brain damage, lung problems, bone disease and Alzheimer's disease.

    Nassim, 17, is having lunch. He works in the aluminium factory next door. He is covered in aluminium dust but has no time to wash his hands... his lunch break is only 30 minutes.

    Those who live far from the factories sometimes decide to sleep on the spot. They wash their clothes and dry them in the workshop.

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