Friday, June 26, 2009

Prostitution, Nirvanavan Foundation, 2008


What amazes me most about this portrait, like so many others, pertains to one fact: this is her first time in front of me. Here is this young girl, she has never seen me, never been asked to stand there in front of thirty or forty people.

Yet here she stands.

Before this portrait, we arrive at this village as strangers. The good people of Nirvanavan Foundation have yet to arrange a presence in this town, the largest of the towns by far under their consideration. After an awkward beginning, we sit down with a few young men and share tea. The mood gets better when they see their aunt from another town in my photo album. All of a sudden, we have four volunteers to help arrange our photography. They tell us to find a place.

We choose a temple and they begin collecting the girls. So here she is, being asked to have her picture made, by men she knows and in front of men that are strangers to her. Boys are everywhere and making a scene like boys do. There are maybe thirty to forty people in our vicinity during her portrait and perhaps that much watching from rooftops and the street.

Yet here she stands.

This is all being accomplished in a village dealing exclusively in prostitution. Most strangers that walk into this village do so for one thing only. She has perhaps rarely met strangers looking for anything else. Her aunts, sisters and so on are a part of this community as prostitutes and her uncles, brothers and so on work the other end of the sex trade, acting as pimps.

Yet here she stands.

Her portrait as well as the portraits of the others are being offered as prints in order to benefit the new school in their village. You may follow the link below for more details.

halimina.org