La Petite Mort Gallery presents:
THE PRICE OF SEX: Documentary Photographs by MIMI CHAKAROVA
August 31 – September 30, 2012
Vernissage Friday August 31 / 7 – 10pm
In collaboration with Ottawa Photography Month & Nuit Blanche 2012
This project is funded in part through a U.S. Department of State, U.S. Embassy-Ottawa Public Affairs Section Grant.
The Price of Sex is a documentary film and photo exhibit about women in Eastern Europe who fell through the cracks of migration. We grew up under a restrictive communist regime but secretly hungered for opportunities in the West. With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Eastern Europeans finally had a chance to taste raw capitalism. The unfortunate reality was that the vulnerable and uneducated lacked the necessary skills to survive it. Countless young women fell prey to traffickers. These girls, some still teenagers, were a commodity to be sold, exploited and discarded. Some call them foolish – poor girls duped with promises for work abroad, instead sold to pimps in brothels and sex clubs; others call them sex slaves – victims of brutal, irreversible circumstances. No one knows how many women have been killed in the global sex trade. We can only estimate. Over time I found young women who had survived. This exhibit is a testament to their courage – their willingness to expose the darkest and most haunting inner-workings of sexual slavery.
One of the main reasons for showing the faces of these women is to strip away the fear and shame that keeps so many quiet. The women’s silence perpetuates the vicious cycle of trafficking. As the years passed, I was convinced that if I could bring back what I witnessed, I could be an outlet for change. I found ways to expose the corruption that greases the wheels of the sex trade. I spent nearly a decade connecting the dots between the countries of origin – where the girls come from – and the countries of destination in the West and the Middle East – where they end up sold into prostitution against their will.
My hope is that the film, along with this exhibit, will reveal a deeper truth of the women’s reality and what they’ve endured. Sex trafficking is not a sheer equation of supply and demand. Add desperation, poverty, abuse, no access to justice and high levels of corruption and you’ll be a step closer in understanding why sex trafficking continues to thrive. By peeling away the layers of the price of sex, the viewers become witnesses – no longer unaware or complacent. I urge them to rise for what must change. –- Mimi Chakarova, http://priceofsex.org/