Human trafficking, modern slavery and other human rights violations are part of our everyday lives, because even in the Western world these issues persist, often covered by the blanket of invisibility - so close, yet so elusive. Their proximity and prevalence is astonishing and frightening.
In April 2018 Crossmodalism held a gathering themed “Invisibility”, and whilst one presenter looked at data security and the others at the squat scene in London in 70s, my art installation focused on human trafficking and modern day slavery. It included 3 portraits of the survivors and their stories alongside, as well as a role-playing exercise that aimed to demonstrate the inequality and privileges arising from a certain background. I have been passionate about this issue in modern society for some time and this was a good opportunity and platform to educate a wider audience, unveil the invisible and support the survivors and victims of human trafficking. I have partnered with SINTRATA (http://sintrata.org/) and Comisión Unidos Contra la Trata (http://comisionunidos.org/), in Mexico. Through those organisations, the survivors provided me with their photographs and stories, that I painted and shared with others.
Moving forward I will paint more portraits as well as paintings inspired by and linked to the victims, survivors and human trafficking, modern slavery and human rights violations at large.
If you are from an organisation that fights these issues, please don’t hesitate to get in touch - I am open to collaborations and support. If you are press or blogger or just behind this issue, also please do get in touch to see how you could contribute or help with spreading the awareness and this project.
Cast Off The Cloak Of Invisibility And Put On The Armour Of Light
DEDICATED TO THE VICTIMS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND MODERN DAY SLAVERY.
Estimated 21 million victims of modern day slavery worldwide who generate $150 billion in illegal profits every year.
21 million - more than twice the population of London!
4.5 million are victims of forced sexual exploitation.
Almost the size of the population of New Zealand.
The top seven most common countries of origin for potential victims of trafficking recorded in 2016 were the UK, Albania, Vietnam, China, Nigeria, Romania and Sudan.
I became a victim of human trafficking starting at the age of 16. A friend told me about a job in Monterrey, Mexico. I went thinking it was a legitimate job but was a ruse. For five years, I was trafficked across Mexico. Eventually I gained my freedom through a police raid, though my traffickers were never prosecuted and are still trafficking women and children globally. Later I met, German Villar who started helping me with Reintegra. In fact, I designed the hummingbird logo and helped come up with the name "Reintegra". Reintegra means to take what is broken and make it whole. The logo shows different pieces coming together to make a bird that is free. Recently, I was able to finish my GED as I was trafficked before I could finish high school. I work as a graphic designer for the Commission vs. Trafficking. I hope to attend the university starting in the fall of 2018 to gain a degree in graphic design while continue to work part-time. My dream is to use my gifts and art to help end human trafficking. I would like to one day open an art studio for children.
I am also a mother and have a 5-year old son named Mateo. Mateo's father died in a motorcycle accident and so I am a widow. My work helps me with most of my living expenses but Reintegra is helping me with the extra living expenses as a mother including the cost for Mateo to attend pre-school. Mateo is learning to swim, has a small dog and loves to play in the sand. Thank you for partnership with me and my son in helping our dreams become a reality.
I am originally from a town near the city of Oaxaca, Mexico. My family is humble, but we didn't lack anything, me or my brothers. At the age of fourteen I went out with my cousin, that day she met a man and started to date him. Weeks passed and one day I went with them to the store. When my cousin got out of the car, he took off and it was the last day I saw my cousin, my town and my family.
For months he kept me kidnapped moving me from city to city forcing me to prostitute myself. I ended up in Tlaxcala, living with him and his parents. His abuses where non-stop. When he found out that I was pregnant he hit me until I lost the baby. I became friends with his niece. She promised to help me to escape. I missed my parents so much and I could not believe that this would be my life. One day, I saw the opportunity and I escaped with the help of the trafficker's father. I ran without turning back.
My family slowly started to rebuild, finally we were together, after the hell we lived. Before everything happened, I did not know what human trafficking was. In my town that is not something known. I just thought about continuing with my life, trying to forget ... Not knowing that the worst was coming. The trafficker reached out to me, again, and threatened me that if I did not return I would regret it. Soon, my dad was killed.
I decided to make a police report. Today, the trafficker is in jail. I also decide to go to Fundación Camino a Casa, where they gave me all the help I needed to recover. I have my own family now and I am striving every day to get ahead.
My dream is to become a social worker and share my testimony to ensure that no girl becomes a victim and no family has to live what mine lived.
Because my parents had divorced, the financial situation at our home was very difficult. As a teen, I dropped out of school. One day I was walking in downtown Puebla looking for work when my ex-boyfriend forced me in to a taxi at knife point, and took me back to his home. When we get there, he told me that he was going to prostitute me. When I refused, he started beating me.
During the next three years I was raped on a daily basis in Puebla, Mexico City, and Veracruz by 30 to 50 men so I could cover the fees that my old boyfriend demanded of me. If I did not bring home the money he would beat me with whatever he could find: wood planks, cables, picks, punches, etc. He would not feed me for days, and he was always threatening me that if I did not do what he wanted, he would kill my family. Twice I got pregnant but both times he found out and beat me until I lost the child. During the time of my captivity, I had to go to the Emergency Room on numerous occasions. Each time, the medical staff asked him all the questions instead of me, and he always answered that I was stupid, that I had fallen down the stairs or something else. The doctors and nurses never asked me how I was, they always let me go home with him again. I knew then, that I could not ask anyone for help, and that this life would be my plight until he killed me from a beating.
On May 7th, 2012 my trafficker came to the corner where I was standing and he hit me because I had taken 1 minute longer with a client than was allowed. He told me to go to the next street as he yelled that he was going to kill me. Thanks to someone that witnessed the scene, and decided to not keep quiet, and they reported this to the PGJ (FBI). As a result, the authorities came for me and arrested my trafficker.
Today, I am a survivor that has reached a very important place in my life. In June of 2017, I graduated from the National Autonomous University of Mexico with a Degree in Nursing. I'm currently finishing the practicum requirements of my degree which means I work at a hospital for a year without pay. I able to do this thanks to Reintegra and many who donate money for my care and attention.
My dream is to become a nurse and do what no one did for me. I want to help identify victims of sex trafficking and sex abuse while working in a hospital. I still have more dreams to reach, one is to one day have a family of my own. I also want to continue my education and eventually run a retirement home for older adults, so they can receive good and dignified care.
I became a victim of Human Trafficking at the age of 17. I come from a very dysfunctional family, and my greatest desire was to know what if felt like to feel loved and to have a family. I never knew my father, and my mother went to the United States to find work, so I grew up with my grandmother, who died when I was 15. I was left alone to fend for myself in the world.
I had always been very vulnerable, but at the moment I met Pedro, my exploiter, I was more vulnerable than ever. Pedro made himself out to be the ‘Prince Charming’ I was looking for. He asked me to marry him, and I accepted thinking that this was the way to get what I always dreamed of: “a family and happiness.” It was his way of manipulating me into selling my body. He sexually exploited me in Mexico City, in the area of La Merced.
One day, God heard my cries and saw my heart – filled with pain and hurt. During a raid, I was rescued by the police and taken to Fundación Camino a Casa where I met incredible people like German Villar and Rosi Orozco. They helped me believe again; they helped me start to live again.
Today, thanks to the support of Reintegra, I am in law school. My greatest dream is to be an instrument in God’s hands to help save lives, and rescue more girls and boys that are living as vulnerable as I was. I want to be a lawyer that fights for freedom, for life, for values, and for Human Rights. I would like to be a legislator so that I can be part of the change in my country because most importantly I want to be a woman of change, an example, a woman of God, so that my testimony can help as a message of hope: that even when everything has been taken from you, you can start again and be happy.
‘A man revived after being found in the desert whilst being trafficked between Niger and Libya. It’s a growing issue in the region as the increasing number of people are imprisoned for smuggling people. The prison at Agadez, where the French once stabled their horses in colonial times, now houses an increasing number of people smugglers. These “passeurs,” as they are known in French, have found themselves on the wrong side of a recent law criminalizing the movement of migrants north of Agadez. Ali Diallo, the veteran among the inmates, blames Europe for his predicament. Originally from Senegal, he made his way across West Africa to Libya working in construction. His life there fell apart after the Western-backed ouster of the Gadhafi regime. The steady supply of work became more dangerous and his last Libyan employer shot him in the leg instead of paying him at the end of a job. “In Senegal there are no jobs, in Mali there are no jobs, but there were jobs in Libya and that was all right,” he says. “Then the West killed Gadhafi and now they want to stop migration.” Diallo retreated two years ago to Agadez and found a job as a tout or “coxeur” matching migrants with drivers. This was what he was arrested for. He has a question: “Didn’t the Europeans think about what would happen after Gadhafi?’
By @ newsdeeply & @sonacircleapp
GAPS IN HUMANITY
This painting reflects on how parts of our society are missing from the map and how we go about our own business, always rushing, looking but not seeing the invisible. The ‘invisible’ consists of people that are trafficked for a variety of reasons, who don’t have the voice, who are not voiceless, but ‘deliberately silenced, or preferably unheard’ (Arundhati Roy).
6.7 Bn PEOPLE in the world.
40.3 million people were victims of modern slavery in 2006.
Women and girls accounted for 71% or 29 million of all modern slavery victims in 2016