Md Shahnewaz Khan
The son of a freedom fighter and political leader, Md Shahnewaz Khan is a documentary photographer, freelance photojournalist, human rights activists based in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Having dreamed in his youth of becoming a writer, photography instead managed to become his muse and mode of expression. He says, "I always want to know about people, their life, their culture and their fight to survive. I believe photography is such a great option for telling the truth to change the world."
From 2004 to the present he completed many courses, workshops, and mentorships about art, journalism, documentary photography at the Photoart Institute, CounterFoto and Pathshala. He is now a Professional degree student at the Photoart Institute.
Child labor is a visible part of everyday life in Bangladesh. Employers often prefer to employ children because they are cheaper and considered to be more compliant and obedient than adults. According to UNICEF report from January 2014, 5.6 million of the country's 26 million children were not in school and according to the ILO (International Labor Organization), in 2006 there were about 3.2 million child laborers in Bangladesh. On average, children work 28 hours a week and earn 222 BDT (US $3.3) a week. The vast majority of children (93 percent) work in the informal sector which makes enforcement of the relevant legislation challenging. Often, the conditions are dangerous and they face the possibility of mistreatment, violence, trafficking, abuse, exploitation, and low-quality food. As a result, working children get stuck in low paying, low-skilled jobs, thereby perpetuating the cycle of poverty.
I've documented these children's lives, originally out of my own curiosity and empathy for their plight. I feel a deep affection for them and they give me inspiration. I’m from a middle class family and witnessed child labor in my own household, since they worked for my family. I would also frequently play with them.