Raising awareness of child labor through photography

Thavara searches for items to recycle. Her dream is to attend school. She was admitted to an NGO school, but has since moved to the countryside.

“The International Labor Organization says the line between harmless chores and child labor is crossed when the youngsters are sold or trafficked, bonded to repay family debt, work without pay, are exposed to safety or health hazards, work excessive hours, suffer physical violence or sexual harassment, or are ‘very young.'” (San Francisco Chronicle, June 5, 2004)

By Vicki Godal/Special to The Malibu Times

On July 9, Julia Dean and Associates will present a photography exhibit called “Child Labor and the Global Village: Photography for Social Change” at their gallery in Marina del Rey. The exhibit has been at the Thoreau Center in the Presidio in San Francisco for the past month with rave reviews.

Dean said the goal of the exhibit is “to raise awareness of child labor through photography. And not only the issue but the humanitarian groups that are working against child labor.”

The gallery reception and fundraiser presents a collaborative project of 11 photographers shooting in 11 countries on one issue, child labor. Half the photographers were selected from a competition using judges from the Los Angeles Times, National Geographic and the New York Times. The rest were personal choices of Julia Dean. Dean started the photography project 10 years ago. She does what she calls “socially concerned” photography. Dean’s own photography career began with her apprenticeship to Berenice Abbott, one of the first prominent female photographers of the 20th century. Dean soon worked for the Associated Press covering the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics and traveling to more than 20 countries freelancing as a photographer and writer for numerous relief groups and publications. Dean’s work has appeared in many publications including National Geographic. In fact, most of the photographers are journalists.

With photographers from Cuba, New York, Paris, Lincoln, Nebraska, Huntington Beach, Taos, New Mexico, Seattle, Los Angeles and Rome, this is an international team.

The journalists photograph the worlds of 11 child workers around the globe. The photographs and accompanying essays will be displayed in this traveling exhibit, a Web site, a school curriculum and a book. The mission of these photographers is to educate people about child labor, move them and motivate them to action. “To get rid of child labor, the one solution is education. A woman in India saw kids working, living and begging in a train station. She now has a nonprofit organization that has set up several ‘platform schools’ at train stations,” Dean said.

About the exhibit, Dean said, “This is a work in progress. The exhibit is a way to show the work that we have done so far and raise money for the additional five photographers who still need to go out on their assignment.”

According to the Child Labor Photo Project Web site, child labor is alarmingly widespread.

“Child labor has many faces. In some, children are physically tethered to the sewing machines where they work. In others, children are locked in workrooms for 12 hours at a time. Let out only for a few moments. If people are aware, then these children have some hope.”

Human Rights Watch will co-present Friday night’s exhibit along with guest speaker Michael Bochenek, deputy director for Children’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch. Bochenek will speak from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The reception lasts until 10 p.m.

The exhibit will be at the Julia Dean Gallery, 3111 Ocean Front Walk, Suite 102, Marina del Rey. A map and directions can be found at the Web site, www.juliadean.com. More information about the exhibit can be obtained at www.childlaborphotoproject.org.

Human Rights Watch: www.hrwcalifornia.org.