Faces Behind Atrocity: Stories of Human Trafficking
There are over 40 million slaves in the world today, bringing slaveholders and traffickers about $150 billion annually. With high profits and low risk, the buying and selling of human beings has become the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world, surpassing even arms and drug trafficking. How can this be? Modern-day slavery, or human trafficking, exists in every county and under many guises. Issues including extreme poverty, corruption, cultural norms that devalue and commodify woman and children, and an insatiable demand for exploitive sex and cheap labor fuel this crime. It may be hard to accept that this happens in our communities, but we must share the knowledge that this is a reality for far too many victims in order to change it.
Despite increasing efforts and a global movement to raise awareness about the atrocities of human trafficking, many people remain unaware that modern day slavery persists in alarming numbers.
The portraits and collected testimonies are part of an ongoing body of work to tell the stories of the survivors. Faces Behind Atrocity aims to be a tool for advocacy, and learning. The series seeks to engage with an audience to challenge common myths about human trafficking; and foster a dialogue about the root causes. The project has roots in Nairobi, where local nonprofit HAART Kenya works within national borders to rescue and rehabilitate human trafficking survivors. The series involved seven young women of four different nationalities, ranging in age from 13 to 16 years old. They were rescued from the horrors of the trafficking world and are in various stages of the healing process. In addition to providing a visual representation of their resilience, beauty, and strength, each survivor recorded a written testimony of how they were led into trafficking and the atrocities they faced.
In the process, I aim to empower survivors; to tap into the therapeutic power of photography to help survivors in recovery. Early on it became evident, for some, it nurtures their confidence, for others it has given them a feeling of being worthy and valued. The objective is to move away from notions of pity and disempowerment and to portray courage, honesty, beauty and strength.