Sonke’s Policy Development & Advocacy Specialist, Tanya Charles writes on silicosis in the M&G today

“The mining industry contributes significantly to the hardship experienced by black women in rural areas of South Africa. For decades, mining houses have drawn in young black men for labour, only for many to return home sick, with little to show for years spent toiling underground. Those who have contracted the preventable but incurable lung disease, silicosis, come home to die a slow and painful death. It is then the women in rural communities who are left to provide support and care under the most adverse conditions.”

Her piece accompanies a moving photoessay by documentary and portrait photographer, Thom Pierce, who partnered with Sonke Gender Justice and Treatment Action Campaign to tell the stories of some of the affected miners, their families and caregivers in the Eastern Cape.