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Story Publication logo March 30, 2017

Bangladesh: Billion Dollar Leather Industry Has a Problem with Child Labor and Toxic Chemicals

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A 10-year-old boy pulls a hide from pressing machine at a tannery in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Image by Justin Kenny. Bangladesh, 2016.
A 10-year-old boy pulls a hide from pressing machine at a tannery in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Image by Justin Kenny. Bangladesh, 2016.

Despite several court orders to close down, more than 150 tanneries in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s Hazaribagh district continue to operate while dumping 21,000 cubic feet of untreated wastewater daily into one of the world’s most crowded cities.

A PBS NewsHour team of Justin Kenny and Larry C. Price visited six tanneries in Hazaribagh, where they found workers, some underage, without shoes and with little to no protective gear.

Workers process hides at a tannery in Dhaka’s Hazaribagh district. Leather in Bangladesh has grown to a $1 billion per year industry. Image by Justin Kenny. Bangladesh, 2016.<br />
Workers process hides at a tannery in Dhaka’s Hazaribagh district. Leather in Bangladesh has grown to a $1 billion per year industry. Image by Justin Kenny. Bangladesh, 2016.
A creek outside a Dhaka tannery has banks covered in garbage and rotting animal hides. Image by Justin Kenny. Bangladesh, 2016.
A creek outside a Dhaka tannery has banks covered in garbage and rotting animal hides. Image by Justin Kenny. Bangladesh, 2016.
Workers rinse off after their jobs at a tannery. Image by Justin Kenny. Bangladesh, 2016.
Workers rinse off after their jobs at a tannery. Image by Justin Kenny. Bangladesh, 2016.
A worker in Dhaka’s Hazaribagh leather district walks through animal hides. Image by Justin Kenny. Bangladesh, 2016.
A worker in Dhaka’s Hazaribagh leather district walks through animal hides. Image by Justin Kenny. Bangladesh, 2016.

You can watch PBS NewsHour’s full report on Bangladesh’s tannery industry here.

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