Works by Matilde Simas, Founder of Capture Humanity
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.
As a social documentary photographer, I’ve born witness to countless heartbreaking stories of human trafficking. I’ve spent the last four years working with more than 60 trafficking survivors in Uganda, Kenya, the Philippines, and the US—and while these survivors all find a way to rebuild and adjust to their new lives, many of them have never had an opportunity to talk about their experiences. They are the driving force behind my desire to share the inconvenient truth of human trafficking and inspire social change.
The portraits and collected testimonies are part of an ongoing body of work to tell the stories of the survivors. The work aims to be a tool for advocacy, and learning. The series aims to engage with an audience to challenge common myths about human trafficking; and foster a dialogue about the root causes.
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.
This exhibit is intended to inform, provoke discussions and inspire action to end modern day slavery.