One of my favorite publications of the US government is the annual TIPs report (Trafficking in Persons) from the Department of State. The use of photography and victim stories make it a challenging and harrowing read–but it transmits information like no other government document I have read. I try with my own photography to provide the kinds of windows into the worlds I photograph as the TIPs report provides me.
Sometimes I worry that, because of my background, the windows which I use to frame my images are warped–are too different from what other people’s window’s look like. That’s why I read Al-Jazeera English and the New York Times and the Economist–all in hopes of clarifying my window-views.
Today was a day when this diversity of perspectives turned up some cultural warpings in other people’s windows.
It is estimated that over 200 immigrants from Africa to Italy (illegal immigrants) died on the rough seas this morning. The New York Times and the LA Times first discuss the weather and then focus on the human trafficking trade out of Libya (which, according to my favorite governmental report isn’t even on the lowest tier of countries in terms of human trafficking). However, Al-Jazeera English focuses on the people–their motivations, struggles, and deaths.
Only by reading all of these sources can my window get a little clearer.
Nirmala Bonat is an Indonesian domestic worker who has relentlessly pursued justice in Malaysian courts for nearly four years since being brutally beaten and burned with an iron, for which her Malaysian employer faces criminal charges. Despite having to stay in Kuala Lumpur sheltered by the Indonesian embassy to continue with court proceedings, and being humiliated in court on many occasions, she has stood her ground, refusing to return home and give up her case. In doing so, she has become an inspiration for abused trafficking victims worldwide seeking to claim their rights. A young 19-year-old woman when she arrived in Malaysia four years ago, her courage is all the more remarkable given her seemingly powerless position in society.