Trafficking in persons: Art is putting the spotlight on this menace

Trafficking in persons has become one of the fastest growing businesses of organised crime and the third-largest criminal enterprise in the world, says the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Nepal, which was until recently a source country for traffickers, has now evolved into a transit as well as destination for women and children who are forced to leave their homes.

While there are so many things being done to raise awareness among the people, who are at risk of being trafficked, not many use the arts to explore female exploitation to give a face to the heinous crime and to turn women and girls into artists and storytellers, transforming their personal narratives from victims or bystanders into advocates for a positive future.

The True Stories Project, a collaborative initiative between the Oakland-based organisation Art Works for Change (AWFC) and the Siddhartha Arts Foundation, being exhibited at the Patan Museum is using the medium of art to do just that. In addition to the personal narratives, the project’s exhibition features works of art by prominent artists on the issue of human trafficking and exploitation.


Ang Tsherin Sherpa

California-based Sherpa is known for paintings that transform traditional images by merging them with contemporary elements. Layered in meaning within the Tibetan thangka-like painting, a young boy is surrounded by not a soothing meditative mandala, but a chaotically swirling and devouring mandala, Here, Sherpa explores the notion that sexual exploitation is not limited to young girls. Young boys, too, are at risk.

Hitman Gurung

The ‘SOLD’ series is an evolving work which developed from Hitman Gurung’s earlier series “This is My Home, My Land and My Country”, which concentrates on the long history of human trafficking, especially girls and women from Nepal to India, Middle East, East Asia and different part of the world.

Gabriela Morawetz

The bed is supposed to be a place of dreams, a comfort zone where one goes to rest the body and mind. But for some, it is a place where the body is violated, trust destroyed. The beds in Morawetz’s Sleeping Self series have accumulated mysterious objects, transforming them. A mattress is piled high with bubbles or fragile glass balls. A figure is entombed in filaments of light, or are they brightly lit nails? As in a dream, these images are removed from any particular time and place. Sometimes the figure is missing altogether, leaving the viewer wondering what has happened to the vulnerable sleeper.


Thomas Kelly

There may be more than two million prostitutes among South Asia’s billion people–males, females and the “third gender”, angels unwillingly tumbled into hell. The majority comes from low-caste and tribal communities, and the remainders are cast out, fleeing abuse, supporting their families or trafficked—for prostitution in South Asia is not a voluntary occupation.

Images courtesy: Siddhartha Art Foundation. The exhibition, part of the events marking the 70th anniversary of US-Nepal bilateral ties, is on till July 31.

Published on July 23rd, Sunday, 2017 2:44 PM

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