FREE SLAVERY - Paolo Marchetti Photographer

Malian Child Exploitation

Over the last 15 years is rapidly manifesting a new scenario of contemporary slavery, have spontaneously appeared new forms of slavery, which is no longer the traffic of people to determine the status of a slave, but the total lack of alternatives for sustaining the individual, to make that millions of people choose to live on the margins of existence civil, employing themselves in trades incredibly dangerous or harmful to their mental and physical health. Children represent large amounts of this infernal process.

From the end of the last millennium, however, we are witnessing an unexpected and substantial return of slavery, although the definition of slavery involves numerous considerations, there are in fact the most varied forms of transition between ratios of simple relations of exploitation and a real enslavement but now in fact, millions of Africans live in human situations that can in effect be considered slavery.
In the world there are about 215 million children engaged in child labor, of these, more than 150 million are trapped in jobs that put at risk their physical and mental health, and condemn them to a life without education.
According to the ILO, 50%, or 74 million, is the number of children employed in various forms of unsafe work, such as working in mines, or in contact with chemicals or dangerous tools and machinery.
Sub-Saharan Africa is the region of the planet with the highest rate of child labor: more than a third of children aged 5 to 14 years is exploited in the most dangerous forms of work, physically, morally or mentally.
Mali is one of the poorest countries on the planet. The world’s human development index, compiled by the United Nations, it is located on the 175th place out of 187 countries.

The industry is practically non-existent and the trade is mainly carried out in the informal sector, the spontaneous and occasional manifested in the streets, and wherever there is an opportunity to gain.
The government in Bamako recently approved a “National Plan for the elimination of child labor” under the policy of child protection. The objective of the Plan (Panetem) is to eradicate by 2020 forced child labor, considered a true form of slavery, but currently, there is no trace of such an initiative.
In the district of Medine in Mali’s capital, Bamako, is located the oldest foundry of the city called Fantogò, which inherits its name from the mountain that hosts it. Its surface area is one hectare, half of which climbs up the adjacent mountain. From all over the country come here, recycled iron, which is then melted and forged for the production of professional hand tools, housewares, and other facilities. Iron processing is performed, starting from the day of birth of the foundry in 1996, with totally manual techniques.

Here employs more than 2000 people and, although there is no official census, the spontaneous and non-governmental committee that manages the foundry, estimates that about 900 workers, are children aged 9 to 17 years, the rest is made up of boys from 18 to 29 .
At least half of the workers in 2000, lives here and then at the end of their hellish work day, it remains within the slum, because it has its own abode.
Permission to sleep in the shacks, is the only form of remuneration for the street children who work in the foundry Fantogò, in addition to this, when possible, they are offered a daily meal that often consists of bread, biscuits or little else.

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