By Malayanil @themalayanil

THESE photos show the potentially fatal conditions children are exposed to in Bangladesh's leather tanneries

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A child placing washed leather in a pile to be dried out under the sun

Workers as young as 11 often become seriously ill because of the chemicals released when the material is manufactured.

A young worker stands on a mound of washed leather

The Hazaribagh neighbourhood in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka, is well known for its tannery industry - producing 15million sq ft of leather every year.

11-year-old Miraj is exposed to dangerous chemicals

Children employed in the trade operate without safety measures and sometimes work shifts of more than 12 hours a day.

Miraj, 11, said "My mother forces me to do work in the tannery. I earn 3,000 Taka (£25) per month and my mother use this amount for our house rent."

A young child dries out washed leather

Talat, 18, who has worked in the industry since he was 13, said: “The water in the pits is extremely toxic and it gives me burns every time it touches my skin.”

Ratan, 11, carries leather on his back

According to the country's 2006 Labor Law, the minimum legal working age in Bangladesh is 14.

A worker processes the material

But it is common for children far younger than that to be found working in the trade so they can support their families.

Ibrahim, 14, said: "My father is a rickshaw puller, he can't afford to pay my family expenses. So I left my education when I was in class five and started working here.

 "Now I am paying my two sisters educational expenses from my salary."

 

Roughly 20,000 people are employed in the neighbourhood's trade

Solayman, 17, said ''Without any safety we work here only for our family living. Sometimes we feel sick working in this toxic environment but we need to work there."

15million sq ft of leather is produced in the neighbourhood every year

Roughly 20,000 people are employed in the neighbourhood’s 270 tanneries, and the typical wage is around £25 a month - with women earning less than men.

Chemicals from the hide seep into the Buriganga River

Sabina began working in one of the leather tanneries after she got married, because her husband couldn't afford to support the family alone.

She fears that exposure to the toxic chemicals could lead to their early deaths. 

Workers transport the washed material to a tannery

Sabina said: “My husband and I have similar working hours and conditions but I get only roughly £19 per month.

The employees process leather

“Both of us would die working here.”

A child places washed leather in a pile for drying out

Alongside the reports of underage labour and low wages, the industry has also been accused of seriously damaging the local environment.

14-year-old Noman works without any safety equipment

According to a 2012 report by Human Rights Watch, every day the tanneries collectively dump 22,000 cubic litres of toxic waste into Dhaka’s main river the Buriganga - which serves as a main water supply.

Young children working away

Air pollution is caused by recyclers who burn scraps of leather to produce consumer products.

Inside one of the tanneries
11-year-old Ratan has a heavy load