Photo Album  Puzzle Photo

Match factories involve lots of manual work, fire hazards and toxic fumes. Adults do the riskier parts of the process, but there’s lots of work for children to do. They work long hours, sitting cross-legged, preparing and packing matches.

To prepare the matches, children spread them out on wooden boards then stack them in a rack. The matches stick out from the boards ready to be dipped into phosphorus. This is what ignites when the match is struck against a rough surface. Once the matchsticks have been dipped in the thick phosphorus, the racks are placed out in the sun to dry.

Packing matches into boxes
Packing matches into boxes

Children then also dismantle the racks and pack the matches into match boxes. A child labourer is capable of packing one matchbox in seven seconds. They stack the finished boxes in rows on a wooden tray. They get paid about 1.5 rupees for filling 144 boxes – a whole tray. In a day they can earn about 15 rupees, which means filling more than 1,000 match boxes.

The filled matchboxes get packaged up in brown paper ready to transport and sell.