Child labour

by Luca Catalano Gonzaga

It may seem like a neologism but it is not. In fact all over the world children have always been the most docile, the most blackmailed and the cheapest work force available to unscrupulous employers. According to the figures of international organizations, today in the world there are 150 million children who do jobs that endanger their mental and physical health, condemned to a life without leisure or education. Among the categories most at risk there are the children working in the furnaces.Throughout most parts of the world, bricks are made by hand. In Asia, Latin America and Africa, children dig clay for bricks using shovels, picks and awls. After mixing the clay and water to achieve the proper consistency, workers form bricks using small wooden moulds. When the bricks are dry they are first transported to the ovens to be cooked, and then, once done, they are loaded onto trucks who then take them to distribute them to construction companies. Each brick weighs up to 4kg, and a child may carry on his head or shoulders up to 1.000-2.000 bricks per day, 12 hours every day. The daily pay varies depending on the number of bricks handled and can be as low as 10 USD for every thousand. The International Labour Organization (ILO) has estimated that over 40% of Nepal’s children aged 5-14 were working in 2007 – 2.6 million in total. Nepal has an overall young population – the average age of its 29 million inhabitants is 20 years old –and child labour is present in most areas of the national economy. In Nepal there are 900 furnaces, 500 of which are in the Katmandu valley. It has been calculated that the furnaces release approximately 837,000 tons of dioxin. (text by Luca Catalano Gonzaga).


A selection of photos from the archive of Luca Catalano Gonzaga is available as collector’s prints. The goal of print selling is to contribute to the realization of the photographic projects of Witness Image that narrate the great transformations of our time.