Hidden Youth - The glass handcuffs of Firozabad - UP, India { 35 images } Created 4 Dec 2008

'Hidden Youth' is a project documenting child labour in Firozabad, renowned as the 'glass city' and located in Western Uttar Pradesh, about 40 Km from Agra, home of the iconic Taj Mahal.

A medium-size urban city, Firozabad is the largest centre for glass items production in India and it specialises in bangles, or bracelets, which are used as women's ornaments during and after marriage and are traded in many countries throughout the world.

Firozabad is the only place in India where the bracelets are manufactured and many of the industrial units in the area are entirely devoted to this activity.

Most of the factories outsource their work inside the homes of slum dwellers on the outskirts of the city, turned into small-scale workshops to finish, smooth,decorate, paint and pack the shining bracelets.

This is carried out by local children raised to be tools of mass production, chained to a life of exploitation inside their own homes, where the glittering bracelets they handle everyday assume the form of handcuffs to a future of servitude.

Due to extreme poverty and a lack of choices, over 20.000 young children are still employed in this area, considered to be one of the highest concentrations of child labour on the planet.

Forced to work to support their disadvantaged families, children as young as five can earn an average of 30-40 Indian Rupees (approx. 0.5 EUR) for eight or more hours of work daily, while being unable to receive any sort of education.

They sit in crouched positions, use solvents, glues, kerosene and various other dangerous materials while breathing toxic fumes and spending most time of the day in dark, harmful environments.

Logistics, local and NGOs contacts are available for a writer to visit Firozabad and write an investigate article focused on the issues of child labour documented in this set of images.

Please write to alex@alexmasi.co.uk
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