Day 19- Pictures that bear witness to modern slavery

Lisa Kristine takes haunting photographs of indigenous people. Her pictures capture another world; the wide eyes of an African child, the inner workings of a gold mine in Ghana. Behind the beautiful and moving nature of her pictures lie a number of uncomfortable truths about the world we live in.

In 2010, Kristine met a representative from an NGO called, ‘Free the Slaves’. She was amazed to learn of the extent of slavery in the modern world, and offered to help them in any way possible. In this talk, she tells the story behind a number of images she took in countries all over the world.

There are approximately 27 million people enslaved in the world. That’s more than twice the amount who were taken from Africa in all the years of the slave trade. Entire families can be enslaved over a death of as little as $18. This debt is passed down through generations’ Kristine shows us the face of one man who was trafficked by his uncle to work with him in the mines. When his uncle died, he was forced to stay to pay back his debt. At the time of meeting with Kristine, he had worked there for 14 years. He’d suffered a leg injury so severe doctors said it needed to be amputated. He also had tuberculosis.

There are more stories which will bring tears to your eyes. The children forced to fish on Lake Volta in Ghana, despite being unable to swim. The women trafficked as sex slaves in Nepal. The people working in brick kilns in India and Nepal for 16 or 17 hours daily without water or breaks. Kristine displays pictures which bear witness to the numerous industries in which people are abused, mistreated and forced to work without pay. These include mining, gold panning, fishing, textiles, the sex industry, agriculture. She reminds us this happens under our noses. It’s estimated that between 100,000 and 300,000 children are sold into sex slavery yearly in the U.S.

Lisa ends with photographs of some of her subjects holding a candle. These symbolise the hope that remains, hope that they will be rescued. Her talk is an excellent testament to the power of images.

(There is a donation to the cause with images purchased on Lisa’s website)


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