Voice of Freedom Israel

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Trafficked women speak into the silence

A participatory photography project supporting formerly enslaved women in a safehouse in Israel to speak out against trafficking and modern day slavery.

More info at www.photovoice.org
Project blog: http://www.ourvoiceoffreedom.wordpress.com

Published in: Art & Photos, Travel
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Voice of Freedom Israel

  1. 1. Photo: Zenebech Zeleke: Directed Self-Portrait . Voice of Freedom trafficked women speak into the silence
  2. 2. Desta Getaneh: This is exactly the type of truck that we were travelling in after we were sold, going into Sudan. We didn’t see the capital in Sudan, but in Egypt, in Cairo, we saw that we had arrived because we saw the sign. They were trying to avoid the traffic police asking questions, so they put us in here and it looked like goods being transported. Before we stepped in the truck, we were told clearly that we were sold – they told us who sold us, for how much and where we were headed. In the truck, because everyone knew that they were sold, they could potentially scream and call attention, so there were people in between us who had knives, to make sure... They showed us that if anybody tried to scream they would kill them, right there. Nobody wanted to ruin his or her life, so nobody did that – or if they did, they would kill that person and set an example in front of us.
  3. 3. Desta Getaneh: I took this picture because it expressed my perspective on my dream. People express things in their own way, and this plant is on a stone – there is no watering to it and there is no food to it, but it still exists. Some people are like that. There are people who are surrounded by nothing, there is nothing left in their life, but it’s amazing how they are still standing. So my dream, as I said earlier, is to give voice to people, and I want to do that with people who feel as if they don’t have anything else in life. In the future I want to be doing that for people who are represented by this picture.
  4. 4. Desta Getaneh: Directed Self-Portrait: The one thing I want to say about this picture is that it’s no use for people to be given a lot of money once they’re in danger and in trouble. Those people who can help others, they should do it when the help can actually save them. It doesn’t mean anything when people send money for coffins. Refugees who pass through this experience are really different – although we are human beings and we have our bodies on us after the experience, the people who pass through the process are really new. They have a different personality though they look the same.
  5. 5. Desta Getaneh: Directed Self-Portrait: Fleeing a country is very different for a woman because we are created differently and by nature we cannot resist the pain and troubles that living in the desert causes us. And as women, even if we are beaten like the men, the places where we are beaten, the way we are beaten – all these things have hurt us more. Men also get raped, but they don’t get pregnant. Women get pregnant; they get beaten while they are pregnant; they go through the pain while they are pregnant. The traffickers don’t want their child to be raised by the woman who got pregnant so they beat her to make sure that the child is aborted. A lot of people go through that. Even if they don’t die, and the baby dies inside, it destroys their health and when they go out they are more likely to die from various illnesses.
  6. 6. Zenebech Zeleke: There is a story that you tell, and a story that you don’t want to tell – but there are some stories that I want a lot of people to see, very clearly, from my own experience. There are things that you go through and want to tell other people, and it makes you feel better. Some of the things that could be told are: they used to force us into taking drugs, and used to bury people alive, and we have seen them beheading people. The light gets in – you can let it in and it’s positive. But the darkness it doesn’t let you in – it just swamps you, and that’s what it does.
  7. 7. Zenebech Zeleke: Directed Self-Portrait: The one thing I want to portray is how people can just, without their consent, without their will, and without their wish, be taken away from where they are to a place that they never wanted to come to. For example, a person from one border is blindfolded, beaten and taken away from the border to another place. I had thought about it myself – that I would portray the experience, and teach others, using film. That’s what I was planning to do when I go back to Ethiopia. It doesn’t matter what the consequences are – whatever demands it makes, I’ll do it because I just have to tell the story.
  8. 8. Zenebech Zeleke: Directed Self-Portrait: You have introduced something new to me that I didn’t know – that you could communicate your message through photography, so that’s one thing I got to learn since I came here. Even if nothing else works for me in Ethiopia, I could use what I learned from you to teach how people can express their views – even through drawing, or anything. It’s a great learning I received – so thank you.
  9. 9. Tizalu Brahan: This is nice, but the red soil that we saw on our journey was different – everyone was sick and people had flu and people were falling… there were men with us and we were on top of each other and some people were just left, and this reminded me of that. There’s a desert before going into Sinai – there were many people, and we were on top of each other, there were men… different men… and people were sick. Yes, when we were there, there was nothing – people didn’t have clothes, there was no food, people were just struggling… and the trash and the dust… it was so dusty, you had to eat it at some point because it was everywhere. Yes, the red earth reminded me of that – I’ll never forget it. Some people have forgotten but I’ll never forget it. It’s linked with my bone. We come here to Israel and everything is new – there was no water there, here they give us water, different clothes, different things. Here I have improved a lot, and I remembered that and I took a picture of it. The future will be improved and better.
  10. 10. Tizalu Brahan: This is the picture that I chose the other day when we did the exercise about our dreams for the future. I chose this picture because I like it and also because this is the skill I would like to have in the future. First you learn how to sew manually, with the pins, and then you learn how to do it with the machine – that is what the woman is doing with the machine. Where I grew up in Ethiopia it’s a city, so you can find these machines there and everybody uses them. I didn’t learn to do any sewing because when I first joined education, the first year, I just left – I fled the country. My mother died one year after I started, so I fled to Sudan. We were 60 people. First it was just me, then I met the rest in Metama in Sudan; the broker who took me left me with them – we went into a big truck and that’s how we came.
  11. 11. Tizalu Brahan: All this is mine. Yes – I have enough things even for a family. We receive it from the shelter. I wash the empty cartons and bottles and store them too. I put my food on the plate, put it here on the little stool… bring my food from the kitchen and eat here. I can have guests, of course. This is the set I use when I invite friends, and when we finish I always clean it really well. I have a lot of friends – sometimes we eat together, and sometimes I eat alone. This set is really special – only for my friends who come from outside the shelter. These are the friends that I made in Sinai – we entered Israel together, from the camps in Sinai. Sometimes I go to visit them, but I prefer not to because I don’t really like to go outside the shelter. A lot of them don’t work so they have free time, and I have my job, and after my job I come back to the shelter and rest.
  12. 12. Tizalu Brahan: This is my room. I took this picture because I always like to see it. This is the first place I was happy after they stole me and I didn’t see my father again. After the journey and all the problems I came here to this clean place. I sat in the prison in Israel for one year, and here for six months now. I’m very happy that I came here to the shelter. Here my life is really nice; I’m seeing different things. There, in the Sinai, we had no clothes and the place was not clean… the sand and the not clean place… it was all trouble.
  13. 13. Voice of Freedom Israel: Trafficked women speak into the silence. More info: www.photovoice.org Twitter: @VoiceFreedomPix Blog: www.ourvoiceoffreedom.wordpress.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/voiceoffreedom.uk

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