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Photo exhibit tells story of sex traffic survivors

Last update - Friday, July 15, 2011, 22:19 By Catherine Reilly

THE FRACTURED lives of women trafficked for prostitution are depicted through a new Dublin photographic exhibition.

‘Not Natasha’ features carefully captured photo images of Moldovan women who escaped prostitution in Europe, and runs at the Creation Arcade on Dublin’s Duke Street until 5 August.

The photographs were taken by Romanian photographer Dana Popa, who travelled to Moldova – one of the world’s poorest countries – in an attempt to pictorially tell a largely untold story of returned survivors of sex trafficking.
The title of the exhibition, ‘Not Natasha’, is based on the slang use of the name to denote prostitutes from eastern Europe.
Moldova has become the main supplier of sex slaves for the European continent and each year at least 500 women return home traumatised after their ordeal. In many cases, the women may have been lured by what appeared to be valid opportunities such as overseas employment, only to be snared by traffickers upon arrival.
According to Professor Kevin Bales, a leading expert on slavery, the global market value of human trafficking is estimated at US$32bn – and a substantial proportion of this is generated from the forced prostitution of women and girls.
Popa, who spent time building trust with the photographed women, said those who consented to take part were mainly motivated by wanting to prevent any other woman going through the same ordeal.
“Basically I think they understood that by being part of the project they would contribute to avoiding this happening to their friends,” she told Metro Éireann.
Popa worked through two NGOs in Moldova, the International Organization for Migration and Winrock International, and took advice on how to ensure she applied no further psychological pressure on the women.
The photographer said she also used “good common sense” in her approaches.
Some women consented to their faces being photographed, while others did not wish to be facially identified. “I wanted to tell the story but not hurt anyone,” said Popa.
The Dublin exhibition is managed by Fomacs (Forum on Migration and Communi-cations) at DIT in collaboration with the London-based Autograph APB and the Immigrant Council of Ireland in the context of the anti-trafficking campaign Turn off the Red Light. Public workshops and interviews are also taking place in tandem with the exhibition.
For more information on the exhibition, contact Fomacs at 01 402 3006 or e-mail info. For news on accompanying events and seminars, visit

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