The leather tanning industry in Pakistan employs about 500,000 Pakistanis who often do precarious work under deplorable labour conditions: Chemicals and heavy machinery are used without protective equipment. Workers make long working hours and are still not earning enough to make a decent living. Workers are hired through contractors and have no job security.
The leather they produce accounts for 5.4% of Pakistan’s total exports and often ends up in clothing and accessories sold by brands in Europe and the United States.
SOMO, together with local partners, researched the labour issues of Pakistani leather workers. They interviewed hundreds of leather workers in the city of Karachi in August and October of 2016. NOOR photographer Asim Rafiqui visited a leather tannery and a leather factory in Karachi.