02 May 2014 04:00
Thousands of workers in Cairo’s leather tanneries interact with dangerous chemicals that pose significant health risks. The Egyptian industry fails to provide them with adequate gear that protect them respiratory and intestinal diseases from prolonged exposure to chromium and other harmful substances. Many of the subjects are family members who have followed the professions of their parents and grandparents in Cairo.
This photo essay provides an intimate look at the filthy, poor conditions under which they work in the industrial area behind the Magra A-Oyoun wall in South Cairo, which dates to the Sultan Salah Al-Din Al-Ayubi, the founder of Ayyubid Egypt, in 1169.
There are hundreds of tanneries behind the Magra Al-Oyoun wall in south Cairo, built by Sultan Salah Al-Din Al-Ayubi, the founder of Ayyubid Egypt in 1169. Two industries coexist in the tanneries of Cairo: the production of gelatin and leather, both from the treatment of animal skins. The tanneries have been around for hundreds of years. over 500 tanneries, 160 glue factories and 350 service shops stocking chemicals, carpenters, dyes and paints are located behind the Magra Al-Oyoun wall in south Cairo. More than 20,000 workers toil in the tanneries, mostly in jobs inherited from their parents and grandparents.
Workers in the tanneries including:
Zenhom, his son Ahmed, his brother Ali and his uncle. The family members have lived there for their entire lives, and inherited the jobs from parents and grandparents. Zenhom carries the timber that the leather hangs from as it dries in the sun. His son Ahmed removes the staples from the leather after its dried. Ragab and Jamal haul bails of leather after tanning.