Every morning, women in tattered clothes and slippers emerge from their homes in Masara, a village in the southwestern county of Migori, Kenya. Each carries a packed lunch of porridge in a calabash, along with a small bottle of mercury and a basin in which to sieve crushed rock — standard tools of the trade at the mines they’re headed to.

The women of Migori have mastered the art of crushing the rock coming out of the mining pits — some more than 200m deep — and then sieving it to extract gold. It’s hard labour, born of necessity...

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