Founded in 2010 in Brooklyn, NY and currently residing in France the FotoEvidence association plays a unique role in the photojournalism ecosystem, as the only publisher of long-form visual stories dedicated solely to human rights and social and ecological justice. FotoEvidence views the photojournalists it supports as change agents and works with a network of presentation and exhibition partners to provide exposure for the photographers and the issues they address, reaching both decision makers and the public with visual stories that move people to action.
© Smita Sharma.A., who is now 19, eloped with a man several years ago. After she overheard him making plans to sell her to a brothel in Kolkata, she managed to escape. She was found at the railway station in Canning, West Bengal, India by representatives of Childline, an organization that helps children in distress. She was then taken to a shelter where she was counselled by mental health experts. A few months later she was reunited with her family.
© Smita Sharma.A photograph of Shaheen, 16, from police files. Shaheen has been missing from her village for the past four years. She called up her father a year ago to inform that she was being held up as a sex slave by Kashmiri militants at Uri region from where she had managed to escape. The police are yet to trace her and she remains missing.
© Smita Sharma.« I fell in love and trusted him. He said he loved me and wanted to marry me. How would I know that he would trick me and sell me for money ». Moni, 18, fell in love with a man from her community and eloped with him from Gangasagarmela, near Kolkata. The man took her to Delhi and then sold her in a brothel. Moni had to entertain 15-20 clients everyday and would be severely beaten in the legs when she refused. She was rescued eight months later during a police raid and reunited with her family in June 2017.
© Smita Sharma.Sisters Z. and B. were trafficked by their aunt when they were in their early teens from Dhaka, Bangladesh to a brothel in Mahishadal, West Bengal. B. got pregnant at 15 and was forced to have an abortion. She often refused to have sex with customers; when she wouldn’t, the owner would make her sister whip her with a belt. “This was the most painful,” Z. said, worse than having to have sex with 20 clients a day.
The Association’s new Initiative ‘We Cry in Silence,’ in partnership with Indian photojournalist Smita Sharma, is organized around Sharma’s seven-year investigation of sex trafficking of minors from Bangladesh and Nepal to India. The We Cry in Silence initiative will include the publication of a photo book that will be donated to libraries and community centers, a newspaper quality zine for free distribution, traveling exhibits that will visit some of the cities where human trafficking is concentrated in several rural areas of Bangladesh and Nepal. The traveling exhibit and associated zine will use Smita’s images and stories of survivals to raise awareness and inspire communities to respond. The book and zine will be tri-lingual and available to local law enforcement agencies, with the goal of sensitizing them to the dangers young women face and the methods of traffickers.
Starting in September 2022, FotoEvidence with several partners in the region that are taking on the organization and execution of the traveling exhibits and community events that are expected to reach around 10, 000 – 15,000 girls from the rural areas. See the map with scheduled events and more about the Initiative.
I believe that this is a very important story, and we have all the tools to tell it and to inspire action.
EVERYONE could be part of our initiative by supporting it. Preorder the book We Cry in Silence: We Cry in Silence
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Smita Sharma is a TED Fellow and an IWMF Reporting Fellow. Her work on sex trafficking published as Stolen Lives in National Geographic Magazine in 2020 received the Amnesty International Media award for Photojournalism in
2021 and the Fetisov Journalism Awards, 2022 in the Outstanding Investigative Category for We Cry in Silence. Her work has been exhibited and shown globally including at the UN Headquarters in New York.
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