Made by children. Child labour then and now

Exhibition, 20/11/2016 – 07/01/2018 Gent, Belgium

Made by children. Child labour then and now.
20/11/2016 – 07/01/2018

Children are supposed to play and go to school. Only adults are expected to work and earn money. End of discussion. Or not?

If you thought that these days child labour is something that only occurs in ‘the South’, you are mistaken. Despite the introduction of compulsory education in Belgium in 1914 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989, child labour is still the subject of controversy worldwide.

Striking personal stories
The exhibition gives child labour a face. Fourteen children tell their stories. Norbertine, aged 14, works in the fur-cutting workshop in Lokeren. Twelve-year-old Juliana has a job in a flax mill in Ghent. Joseph Balthazar and Maria Daeninck, both aged 12, work for a printer. Some of the stories are of children here in Belgium, some are of children from the South, some stories relate to the past, others to the present. But whether set in the textile industry, the brickworks or showbiz, each of those stories is heart-rending. Has it occurred to you that your T-shirt may have been ‘made by children’ or the cobalt in your smartphone mined by seven-year-olds in the Congo? Gripping photographs and personal possessions illustrate the lives of these children.

Juliana De Corte, 12 years old. At first she only worked in the flax factory in Ghent (the “Gantoise”) in school holidays. She kept it from her mother, but the smell of flax gave her away.

Jean Caeluwaert, 8 years old. A mine worker in the Charleroi area, who twenty years later became a popular trade unionist and MP.

Norbertine De Cock, 14 years old. She worked in the fur-cutting workshop in Lokeren, an extremely unhealthy sector which employed large numbers of children.

Sandra Kim, 13 years old. A child star and winner of the Eurovision Song Contest talks of the less glamorous side of her success.

Milestones in history
Will the day come when the world is free of child labour? The exhibition traces the vision of historians, lawyers and educationalists down the ages. An interactive timeline shows the main milestones in the history of child labour in Belgium. How did the social laws come about? What is the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child? What does ILO stand for?

• Interactive tour with guide and tablet + educational material
• For pupils in the third grade of primary school: guided tour + city walk on the theme of children’s rights
• For secondary school pupils: guided tour + documentary ‘The True Cost’ about consumption and the clothing industry

For guided tours: BoekjeBezoek: 09 210 10 75, Mondays to Fridays from 9 to 18.00 hrs

New opening times
Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays: open from 9 to 17.00 hrs
Closed on Wednesdays
Weekends, public holidays and school holidays: open from 10 to 18.00 hrs 

Guided tour of the highlights
every third Sunday of the month at 11.00 hrs

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