New Photography Exhibition explores today’s growing trade in human lives
21 February to 29 March 2007
St Paul’s Cathedral, London.
As Britain prepares to commemorate 200 years since the abolition of the slave trade, a new photography exhibition reveals how human trafficking is a bitter reality for thousands of women, men and children in this country today.
Slave Britain artfully documents the ordinary lives and everyday locations caught up in trafficking and calls for an end to this illegal 21st century trade. The show is produced by Panos Pictures in partnership with Amnesty International, Anti-Slavery International, Eaves and UNICEF UK.
The photographs, by Panos photographers Karen Robinson and David Rose, represent a rare and intimate insight into the mechanics of this fastest growing form of modern day slavery and explore the devastating impact it has on people’s lives.
Sensitive portraits by Karen Robinson of women trafficked into prostitution, taken in the UK and in Lithuania, movingly illustrate how poor, vulnerable and often already marginalised young women, fall prey to criminal gangs, unscrupulous boyfriends and family members.
Daina, (not her real name), was 19 when her boyfriend sold her into prostitution. â€œHe said he had friends in England who would be able tof ind us work,â€ she says. Believing he was finishing work and following on behind, she took the plane ticket he’d bought her and the name of his friend who would meet her at the airport. The ‘friend’ took her to a flat. â€œThat was when the bad things started happening,â€ she remembers. â€œA man was there, who slapped me in the face. He told me to go upstairs and put on some ‘special clothes’ and make-up. He said I would be working straight away.â€
Images and testimonies from men, women and children brought to the UK as domestic workers in people’s homes, tell similar stories of deception, betrayal and exploitation. In a disturbing representation of modern day Britain, landscape images by David Rose capture the suburban streets, city centres, agricultural fields and other environments where women and men have beenheld in slave-like conditions, for sex and forced labour. Unremarkable in their familiarity yet extraordinary in their ordinariness, these vast landscape images powerfully bring home the scale of this phenomenon and the closeness of it to our everyday lives.
Bringing the exhibition to a close under the heading ‘Are you a Modern day Abolitionist?’, is a gallery of portraits of ordinary men and women who, echoing the commitment of the 19th century abolitionists, have engaged in some way against the trafficking of people. They include an MP, a journalist, a nun who founded a centre for domestic workers, campaigners against child trafficking, and a housewife who unwittingly became involved in the issue when a woman who’d escaped from domestic slavery knocked on her door.
The photographs are challengingly mounted on a cage-like structure which has been specially designed for the imposing and inspiring setting of St Paul’s Cathedral. Canon Ed Newell, director of the St Paul’s Institute, which is hosting the exhibition, says:
â€œIt is shocking that human trafficking is a reality in the UK today. Just as the churches played a key role in bringing an end to the slave trade 200 years ago, we hope this exhibition will also play a direct part in bringing to an end this demeaning and exploitative trade in human beings. St Paul’s Cathedral is delighted to work alongside Panos Pictures and other partner agencies to present Slave Britain.â€
The exhibition seeks to expose the reality of trafficking in the UK and the action needed to tackle it. The participating agencies are lobbying the UK government to make good on its recent promise to sign and ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings in order to guarantee minimum standards of protection and support for trafficked people. Visitors to the exhibition are invited to sign up to a petition, reminiscent of the 1807 petitions which played a vital part in the abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
For more information and press photographs please contact:
Panos Pictures 020 7253 1424;
Slave Britain: The 21st Century Trade in Human Lives St Paul’s Cathedral, Wednesday 21st February to 29 March 2007. Opening Times: Mon – Sat 8.30am – 4pm, Cathedral admission Â£9.50, concessions Â£8.50. Special events may require all or part of the cathedral to be closed during these hours, sometimes at short notice. For further information please call 020 7246 8348 (recorded information) or 020 7246 8350.
2007-01-24 13:48:53 UTC
Mar 12 2008