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A Contemporary Hell: Life Inside a Ba...
Faridpur, Bangladesh
By Miguel Candela
07 Mar 2015

Prostitution in Bangladesh has been legal since the year 2000. However, as Bangladesh is a conservative Muslim country, prostitution carries negative social stigmas. Despite this, severe poverty and economic stagnation have forced women previously employed in other sectors to become prostitutes. Furthermore, many sex workers are underage and child prostitution is rife. Female sex workers are often abused and and always underpaid, earning as little as $0.50 per customer.

However, there is growing awareness among sex workers and they have started to organize themselves in unions. One organization of sex workers is called the “Prostitute Association of Faridfur,” founded in Faridpur district, near the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka. These associations were formed to establish a “union” among sex workers and protect them from abuse. Despite the face of a unified force in having associations to represent these sex workers, radical Islamic conservatives have openly condemned these women. In 2010, these radicals burned a brothel to the ground. That incident injured two women and left all of the other tenants homeless. 

These photos offer intimate portraits of women who's daily lives consist of abuse and exploitation as they struggle to survive on the fringes of one of the poortest societies on earth. 

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Domestic Workers Face 'Modern Slavery...
Hong Kong
By Miguel Candela
01 Mar 2015

320,000 migrant women are exposed to all kinds of physical and psychological abuse in the domestic service sector of Hong Kong. This story is a testimony of their experiences and struggles.

After being repeatedly abused and realizing that her situation would not improve, in a desperate attempt, Kamsiah ran away from her employer's house without money or documentation. Subsequently she was accused of stealing her employer's wallet which was said to contain around 900 US Dollars. Unfortunately, false accusations are a common practice to pressure migrant workers and avoid paying the wages owed to them. Barefooted, without money nor documentation, she sought refuge in a 24-hour fast food restaurant and waited until another compatriot helped her and took her to a shelter.

Esther C. Bangkawayan is the director of Bethune House shelter, where foreign domestic helpers who suffer abuse find shelter, food, and legal advice. They now house about a dozen women in trouble, but at times they even have to squeeze around 20 people in the small house nestled beside a church in Kowloon. A domestic helper herself, Esther is campaigning the government to scrap two rules she deems unfair: one which forbids employees from changing their employers more than three times a year, and another one which doesn’t allow them from changing to work at another sector of the economy.

42 year old filipino domestic helper Grace signed a misleading labour contract to work in Hong Kong but she instead ended up in Dalian, a northeast Chinese city 1,979 km far from Hong Kong. After confronting her employer about the situation, Grace was put into a return flight to Hong Kong without her pending salary and with only 200 RMB in her wallet. Grace has made now a formal complaint against the recruitment agency which made her labour contract. However, she is not very optimistic regarding her chances of recovering the debt of 40,000 pesos she currently has in the Philippines.

Eni Lestari, Indonesian, is the spokesperson for the Justice for Erwiana Committee. A domestic helper herself, she hopes to get justice for one of her compatriots, Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, who came to Hong Kong seeking for a better life and future but instead found a form of modern slavery. Erwiana’€™s employers hit her so severely that her brain has sustained irreversible injuries. As a result, she is unable to walk properly and has blurred vision. Her employer punched Erwiana so violently that her teeth cracked. She was sent to Indonesia with her body full of bruises and 8 US dollars in her pocket. Outraged immigrants like Lestari demand now justice and prison for her attackers. The Court has already declared them guilty and sentence is pending.

On Sundays thousands of Indonesian women gather in the streets and public spaces around Hong Kong to take advantage of their only day off. Most take their own food and an umbrella and talk to their friends all day long.

“€œWe barely have any money, so we have to take our lunch from our employer's house and sit in any public space that we can so we can enjoy our leisure time with our friends,”€ said Kamsiah.

To enjoy their free time and to get to know other immigrant workers in Hong Kong, immigrant groups organize activities for the women, such as beauty contests and self-defense classes in Victoria Park.  Persaudaraan Setia Hati Terate Fight Club teaches women to protect themselves from abusive employers.

Not only helping the women get away from the world of domestic work for the little time they have off or boosting their ability to defend themselves, such activities are the only social contact many have; and friends made during Sundays can be of great importance when difficulties arise.

FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

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Burma's LGBT 01
Yangon, Myanmar
By Pablo L. Orosa
20 Nov 2014

Members of the LGTB community gather in People´s Park in Yangon. They light candles in remembrance of their friends who have suffered abuse, tortures and social discrimination.

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Burma's LGBT 02
Yangon, Myanmar
By Pablo L. Orosa
20 Nov 2014

Members of the LGTB community gather in People´s Park in Yangon. They light candles in remembrance of their friends who have suffered abuse, tortures and social discrimination.

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Burma's LGBT 03
Yangon, Myanmar
By Pablo L. Orosa
20 Nov 2014

Zae Ya, spokesperson for the Colors Rainbow association, poses in Yangon with his pride flags. Despite the improvement achieved since the dissolution of the Military Junta in 2011, lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual people still face bullying and violence in their daily lives.

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HK Domestic Workers 02
Hong Kong
By Miguel Candela
24 Jun 2014

Kamsiah relives the moment she escaped her employer's household and sought refuge in a McDonald's open 24-7. Barefoot with neither money nor documentation, she waited until another compatriot helped her and took her to a shelter.

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HK Domestic Workers 15
Hong Kong
By Miguel Candela
23 Jun 2014

On Sundays thousands of Indonesian women gather in the streets and public spaces around Hong Kong to take advantage of their only day off in an economic way. Most take their own food and an umbrella and talk to their friends all day long.

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HK Domestic Workers 16
Hong Kong
By Miguel Candela
23 Jun 2014

Two young Indonesian immigrants pose in a Hong Kong street on a sunday. Many of them are misled by mafia-style organizations who lure them to sign abusive contracts and exploit them later in Hong Kong.

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HK Domestic Workers 17
Hong Kong
By Miguel Candela
23 Jun 2014

On Sundays thousands of Indonesian women gather in the streets and public spaces around Hong Kong to take advantage of their only day off and to have picnic. “We barely have any money, so we have to take our lunch from our employer's house and sit in any public space that we can so we can enjoy our leisure time with our friends” said Kamsiah.

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HK Domestic Workers 18
Hong Kong
By Miguel Candela
23 Jun 2014

Kamsiah stands at a Kowloon street market where she would buy food for her employer. After being repeatedly abused and realizing that her situation would not improve, in a desperate attempt, Kamsiah ran away from her employer's house without money and documentation. Subsequently she was accused of stealing her employer's wallet which was said to contain around 900 US Dollars. Unfortunately, this false accusations are a common practice to pressure migrant workers and avoid paying the wages owed to them.

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HK Domestic Workers 01
Hong Kong
By Miguel Candela
23 Jun 2014

Dora poses behind a traditional Indonesian wooden mask in front of the police station where she reported physical abuse and conditions of slave labor at the whim of her employer.

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HK Domestic Workers 03
Hong Kong
By Miguel Candela
23 Jun 2014

Kamsiah stands at a Kowloon street market where she would buy food for her employer. After being repeatedly abused and realizing that her situation would not improve, in a desperate attempt, Kamsiah ran away from her employer's house without money and documentation. Subsequently she was accused of stealing her employer's wallet which was said to contain around 900 US Dollars. Unfortunately, this false accusations are a common practice to pressure migrant workers and avoid paying the wages owed to them.

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HK Domestic Workers 04
Hong Kong
By Miguel Candela
23 Jun 2014

Filipino domestic worker Grace stands at the bus station where she arrived in Hong Kong from China. She signed a labor contract to work in Hong Kong but her employer's family sent her illegally to Dalian, Northeast China. Without her passport and knowing no Chinese she didn'€™t know what to do, so she obliged them. After having worked there for a while, the employers refused to pay her and sent her back to Hong Kong with just 200 RMB in hand. Now she has filed a lawsuit against the family who employed her, but she's not very optimistic about the outcome and she doesn't think she will be able to pay the 40.000 peso debt she contracted in the Philippines with the employment agency.

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HK Domestic Workers 05
Hong Kong
By Miguel Candela
23 Jun 2014

42 year old filipino domestic helper, Grace, signed a misleading labour contract to work in Hong Kong but she instead ended up in Dalian, a northeast Chinese city and 1,979 km far from Hong Kong. After confronting her situation to the employer, Grace was put into a return flight to Hong Kong without her pending salary and with only 200 RMB in her wallet. Grace has made now a formal complaint against the recruitment agency which made her labour contract. However, she is not very optimistic with her chances of recovering the debt of 40,000 pesos she currently has in the Philippines. In the photograph, Grace poses in Mong Kok, Kowloon district, near where she first arrived in Hong Kong.

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HK Domestic Workers 06
Kowloon
By Miguel Candela
23 Jun 2014

Sundays are the only days that immigrants can rest and enjoy with their friends. Some from Indonesia, as shown in the image, also try dresses for their pre-wedding photo taking sessions so they can send them to their families. It is important for them to show an image of progress and prosperity.

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HK Domestic Workers 07
Hong Kong
By Miguel Candela
23 Jun 2014

To enjoy their free time and to get to know other immigrant workers in Hong Kong, different immigrant groups organize activities, such as beauty contest, in Victoria Park, Hong Kong Island. Such activities are the only social contact many have, and friends made during Sundays can be of great importance when difficulties arise.

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HK Domestic Workers 08
Hong Kong
By Miguel Candela
23 Jun 2014

Indonesian women learn and train self-defense thanks to Persaudaraan Setia Hati Terate fight club in Victoria park to protect themselves from abusive employers.

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HK Domestic Workers 09
Hong Kong
By Miguel Candela
23 Jun 2014

Indonesian women learn and train self-defense thanks to Persaudaraan Setia Hati Terate fight club in Victoria park to protect themselves from abusive employers.

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HK Domestic Workers 11
Hong Kong
By Miguel Candela
23 Jun 2014

On Sundays thousands of Indonesian women gather in the streets and public spaces around Hong Kong to take advantage of their only day off in an economic way. Most take their own food and an umbrella and talk to their friends all day long.

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HK Domestic Workers 12
Hong Kong
By Miguel Candela
23 Jun 2014

Sring Atin arrived in Hong Kong in 2002 to work as a domestic helper and only had a single day off each month. Her abuse and slavey-like labour experience in Hong Kong does not differ from many other Indonesian immigrants but, luckily, Sring was allowed to change employer. She is now of of the most energetic activists who fight to protect immigrants rights and to change Hong Kong laws.

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HK Domestic Workers 13
Hong Kong
By Miguel Candela
23 Jun 2014

Eni Lestari, Indonesian, is the spokesperson for the Justice for Erwiana Committee. A domestic helper herself, she hopes to get justice for her compatriot Erwiana Sulistyaningsih who came to Hong Kong seeking for a better life and future but found slavery instead. Erwiana’s employers hit her so severely that her brain has sustained irreversible injuries; As a result she is unable to walk properly and has blurred vision. Her employer punched Erwiana so violently that her teeth cracked. She was sent to Indonesia with her body full of bruises and 8 US dollars in her pocket. Outraged immigrants like Lestari demand now justice and prison for her attackers. The Court has already declared them guilty and sentence is pending.

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HK Domestic Workers 14
Hong Kong
By Miguel Candela
23 Jun 2014

On Sundays thousands of Indonesian women gather in the streets and public spaces around Hong Kong to take advantage of their only day off in an economic way. Most take their own food and an umbrella and talk to their friends all day long but also massaging each other as shown in the picture.

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HK Domestic Workers 10
Hong Kong
By Miguel Candela
01 Jun 2014

At a difficult and exhausting self-defense class, Indonesian women train to protect themselves from abusive employers. Sundays are the only holidays for foreign domestic workers who fill Hong Kong's parks and streets with cultural and other activities at the end of each week.

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Immigrant Single Mothers, Invisible R...
Bangkok, Thailand
By Biel Calderon
14 Jun 2013

Sarah (random name) left Democratic Republic of Congo after being threatened for defending women rights in the country. She decided to leave when the government killed two of her colleagues from the NGO she was working for. She has been recognized as refugee in Bangkok but she does not qualify for UNHCR assistance as she makes some money selling jewelry and scarfs.

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Immigrant Single Mothers, Invisible ...
Bangkok, Thailand
By Biel Calderon
14 Jun 2013

Shakila (random name) belongs to the Ahmadiyya minority, an Islamic reformist movement persecuted in Pakistan. She fled her country in December 2012 with her 32-years old son who was threatened for working with an Ahmadi company. She lives now in Bangkok and she waits to get the refugee status.

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Immigrant Single Mothers, Invisible R...
Bangkok, Thailand
By U.S. Editor
06 Jun 2013

Thailand is a main destination for refugees in South and South East Asia. Thousands of immigrants cross its borders every year for economic reasons but also in search of protection from persecution or from the conflicts that ravage their own countries. They are refugees, people who leave their countries of origin fearing harm for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.

According to UNHCR data, Thailand hosts more than 85 000 refugees (as registered by the UNHCR) and 1200 asylum seekers (waiting for their recognition). Most of these people are Burmese nationals living in refugee camps located alongside the Thailand-Myanmar border (Burma). Nevertheless, as Thailand has not signed the 1951 Refugee Convention, refugees from other nationalities that cannot live inside camps are considered as illegal immigrants and face imprisonment and abuse from Thai authorities. Despite this, many refugees choose Thailand for logistical reasons; many of them come from Pakistan and Sri Lanka and it is easy for them to obtain a tourist visa to Thailand.

Women are among the most vunerable refugees. Many of them have suffered sexual abuse and torture in their countries of origin and, according to the UNHCR, are more likely to be subject to sexual violence and trafficking after fleeing. For single-mother refugees, the burden is even heavier as they have to look after the whole family alone. As illegal migrants in Thailand, they cannot find a job or get any income legally. Once recognized by UNHCR as refugees, they received an allowance that ranges from 2000 to 3.800 baths (64 to 122 USD), amount that refugees consider insufficient to meet their most basic needs.

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Immigrant Single Mothers, Invisible R...
Bangkok, Thailand
By Biel Calderon
06 Jun 2013

Sahar (random name), 50, fled Iran in 2010 with her three children escaping from the abuses of her husband. Two of her three children are already adults but she also takes care of her granddaughter, abandoned by her Thai mother. She has recently been recognized as refugee by UNHCR.

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Syrian Refugee Children Work in Beiru...
Hamra, Beirut, Lebanon ,
By hussein baydoun
12 Mar 2013

Syrian refugee child, he is 7 years old and sells flowers on the streets all night.

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Syrian Refugee Children Work in Beiru...
Hamra, Beirut, Lebanon ,
By hussein baydoun
12 Mar 2013

A Syrian refugee selling flowers on the streets. His name is Zaalan and he is 14 years old.

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The Forgotten of Nha Trang Hospital
nha trang
By Piero Pomponi World Focus
26 Jul 2012

Contributor Piero Pomponi managed to gain entrance to the Nha Trang Hospital with a Vietnamese NGO worker who managed to convince the guard of the hospital to let them in. Piero's escort is a volunteer who brings in water, food, and medecine for the patients. There are no doctors or nurses in the hospital. People that are chained to the wall are considered the most dangerous patients. Piero could not interview the families visiting the patients. As evidenced in the photos there are signs patients have been beaten, are restrained by rusty chains, their feces is only cleaned from their room once a week. No one speaks of the hospital and the town of Nha Trang is a popular resort town. The hospital is actually the department of neurology of the Nha Trang Hospital but is kept separate.

Nha Trang - Vietnam - South East Asia- June 27th,2012- The power of the mind is infinite but not so deceitful as to drive the human being to suffer from the disturbances of its cognitive complexities on its own. Mental illnesses don’t just happen at the touch of a magical baton; they stem from a diverse fountain of anomalies and traumas spreading its viral and manic tentacles through different mental faculty mediums and in different forms of physical existence.
For the sufferer this represents a prison of self-hell, for reasoning is not capable to capture the very essence and the root cause of such torment. For our Universe, it further vindicates that health disparities through the lack of human rights, moral code, social and cultural injustices still prevail in the 21st century, where overall evolution for some still remains merely a word spelled with 9 letters and for others, the playground for continued obscure methods and treatments of torture towards victims of this dark yet un-chosen path of extreme abnormality.
There comes a time where honor and integrity for a just world need a mass calling, through the silent voices of all those that are not only living in the cell of their own self-inferno but also, are being prisoners of blacken and degrading action from other mortals defined as a disgrace to Humankind.
In Nha Trang psychiatric hospital, a lager in most cases, mental illness patients, still leaving with chains in a total state of slavery and deprivation of freedom. The picture shows some mental illness inside one of the psychiatric hospital, looking trough the barres window.

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Egyptian Women March Against The Army...
Cairo, Egypt
By a.fatah85
24 Dec 2011

In Tahrir Square women gathered surrounded by men whose linked hands formed a cordon to protect them. One of the men circled the square once the march proceeded through downtown Cairo because of the scene in 2007 of horrific mass assaults during the Eid vacation when packs of youths sexually assaulted women.
Their chants, "Girls of Egypt are a red line"- a variation of the now abandoned "The Egyptian army is a red line"- echoed around the street. From balconies, office workers clapped and cheered. The women chanted for them to join saying, "Come down from your houses, Tantawi undressed your girls." Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi is the head of the SCAF.
There was pervasive anger against the army with frequent chants for the SCAF to leave power and condemnation of violence by military "riff-raff."