Heftig! Kinderen zelf aan het woord over seksuele uitbuiting

Rachelle Abbas 4 dec 2018 Kids

Zo’n twee miljoen kinderen wereldwijd zijn slachtoffer van commerciële seksuele uitbuiting. In veel gevallen gaat het om meisjes en jonge vrouwen. Online wordt het probleem ook steeds groter, op elk moment van de dag zijn 759.000 mannen online op zoek naar seks met minderjarigen.

Down To Zero is een alliantie van vijf kinderrechtenorganisaties die seksuele uitbuitingen willen gaan elimineren. De alliantie bestrijd in elf landen prostitutie, webcamseks en kinderhandel.

Kinderen die te maken hebben met seksuele uitbuiting

De Nederlandse fotografe Marieke van der Velden is voor Down To Zero naar Thailand afgereisd. Ze portretteerde daar kinderen die – vaak na traumatische ervaringen – in opvanghuizen terecht zijn gekomen.

De portretten

De kinderen mochten niet herkenbaar in beeld, dus de fotografe koos ervoor om ze op een andere manier te portretteren. Vanuit Nederland nam ze kleurpotloden en viltstiften mee naar Thailand, waarmee kinderen hun eigen gezicht konden tekenen. Als ze geen gezicht wilden tekenen, mocht het ook iets anders zijn wat ze dan graag zouden wíllen zijn (of hebben). Dat resulteerde in de volgende foto’s. Van lotusbloemen tot Godzilla. Het resultaat zie je hier (onder de foto’s lees je de verhalen):

Tas (14 jaar)

 

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Tas (14) grew up with his cousins family until his aunt abandoned him and left him and his cousin Mai with Mai’s father. Their childhood was tough, as they boys would regularly be beaten so they spent much of their time on the streets, avoiding going home. When Tas was 11, his uncle no longer wanted to care for him and Mai and took them to the shelter.⠀ ⠀ Upon his arrival and after a medical check, it was discovered that Tas had been sexually exploited. He disclosed that he was trafficked with his cousin to a British man via an agent who found them on the beach. The boys were given 500 baht (€13) to perform sexual acts and this went on for two weeks. At the time, Tas was only 11. He has now been at the shelter for three years and is slowly recovering from the traumatic abuse he experienced. ⠀ ⠀ —⠀ ⠀ On assignment for Down to Zero, I went to Thailand last summer with color pencils and paper in my suitcase. I let children who were/are victimes of commercial sexual exploitation draw their own faces or – if they want – a fantasy creature they feel connected with. 16 Portraits will be exhibited in #Humanityhouse The Hague from November 20th till December 16th. ⠀ ⠀ —⠀ ⠀ #downtozero project is an alliance of #terredeshommes #plannederland #freegirl #defenceforchildren and #iccocooperation . One of the things they do is supporting these shelters.⠀ ⠀ #photography #child #thisisme #exhibition⠀ ⠀ —⠀ ⠀ This saturday (December 1st), the series will be published in Volkskrant Magazine!⠀

Een bericht gedeeld door Marieke Van Der Velden (@marieke.van.der.velden) op

Beem (13 jaar)

 

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Beem is a 13 year-old girl with a strong personality. Her mother was heavily involved with drugs and Beem and her six siblings were left in the care of her grandfather. With little food or money and feeling lost, Beem left her home at 12 to live on the streets where she was sexually exploited repeatedly by both foreign men as well as Thai nationals. ⠀ ⠀ After living on the streets for six months, a man approached Beem to live in a house with other girls her age. In exchange for rent, she would perform sexual acts on him as well as other customers – most of them were labourers, above the age of 50. ⠀ ⠀ After a friend told her about the shelter, she went there for help. She is now a regular and spends most of her time working at the food truck of the shelter. She loves cooking and learning about running a business and hopes to have her own business one day.⠀ ⠀ —⠀ ⠀ On assignment for Down to Zero I went to Thailand last summer with color pencils and paper in my suitcase. I let children who were/are victimes of commercial sexual exploitation draw their own faces or – if they want – a fantasy creature they feel connected with. 16 Portraits will be exhibited in #Humanityhouse The Hague from November 20th till December 16th. ⠀ ⠀ —⠀ ⠀ #downtozero project is an alliance of #terredeshommes #plannederland #freegirl #defenceforchildren and #iccocooperation . One of the things they do is supporting these shelters.⠀ ⠀ #photography #child #thisisme #exhibition⠀

Een bericht gedeeld door Marieke Van Der Velden (@marieke.van.der.velden) op

Som (16 jaar)

 

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Som (16) has always been homeless. Her mother is a garbage collector and she grew up on the streets of Bangkok. When she was six years-old, all of the homeless people in Bangkok were rounded up and arrested and she was sent to live in a government run shelter. She stayed there for the next six years where she was treated poorly and didn’t have any contact with her mother. ⠀ ⠀ When she was 12, she ran away from the shelter to try to find her mother, but was sexually assaulted on the street. It was at this time that she met her girlfriend who was a drug dealer. She began helping her girlfriend sell drugs until they were both arrested. Som was propositioned by the police officer for sex in exchange for her release. ⠀ ⠀ After finding the shelter she is now engaged in alternative schooling and aims to finish high school so she can get a job. She dreams of someday having her own home. ⠀ ⠀ —⠀ ⠀ On assignment for Down to Zero, I went to Thailand last summer with color pencils and paper in my suitcase. I let children who are victimes of commercial sexual exploitation draw their own faces or – if they want – a fantasy creature they feel connected with. 16 Portraits will be exhibited in #Humanityhouse The Hague from November 20th till December 16th. ⠀ ⠀ —⠀ ⠀ #downtozero project is an alliance of #terredeshommes #plannederland #freegirl #defenceforchildren and #iccocooperation . One of the things they do is supporting these shelters.⠀ ⠀ #photography #child #thisisme #exhibition⠀

Een bericht gedeeld door Marieke Van Der Velden (@marieke.van.der.velden) op

Peak (13 jaar)

 

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Peak (13) was born into a poor and broken family in the Southwest of Thailand. His parents didn’t have stable jobs and worked periodic labour jobs to get by. At 12, Peak left home to try to get a job to support his family. He headed to one of Thailand’s beach towns to try to find work, when he was approached by an agent to work with a foreigner who was an owner of a restaurant. When the owner started sexually assaulting him, Peak tried to escape, but without accommodation, food or money, he had no choice but to stay. ⠀ ⠀ Eventually he was rescued and sent to the shelter. He is doing very well and recovering. He has started going back to school and enjoys playing football with his friends and working in the garden at the shelter.⠀ ⠀ —⠀ ⠀ On assignment for Down to Zero, I went to Thailand last summer with color pencils and paper in my suitcase. I let children who were/are victimes of commercial sexual exploitation draw their own faces or – if they want – a fantasy creature they feel connected with. 16 Portraits will be exhibited in #Humanityhouse The Hague from November 20th till December 16th. ⠀ ⠀ —⠀ ⠀ #downtozero project is an alliance of #terredeshommes #plannederland #freegirl #defenceforchildren and #iccocooperation . One of the things they do is supporting these shelters.⠀ ⠀ #photography #child #thisisme #exhibition⠀ ⠀ —⠀ ⠀ This saturday (December 1st), the series will be published in @volkskrantmagazine !

Een bericht gedeeld door Marieke Van Der Velden (@marieke.van.der.velden) op

Kite (13 jaar)

 

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When Kite (13) was young, her mother left her in Thailand’s northern province to move to Bangkok. She was left in the care of grandmother with very little money and started abusing drugs when she was 10. When she was 11, she left her home to find her mother in Bangkok, but her mother was not interested in caring for her, so Kite ended up on the streets. This is where she met a young man who lured her into the sex trade in exchange for food and money. ⠀ ⠀ She is now six months pregnant and still abusing substances. She found the shelter through a friend and went there initially for food and shelter. They are helping her understand the implications of being a young mother and supporting her through her pregnancy to ensure she gets proper prenatal care.⠀ ⠀ —⠀ ⠀ On assignment for Down to Zero, I went to Thailand last summer with color pencils and paper in my suitcase. I let children who were/are victimes of commercial sexual exploitation draw their own faces or – if they want – a fantasy creature they feel connected with. 16 Portraits will be exhibited in #Humanityhouse The Hague from November 20th till December 16th. ⠀ ⠀ —⠀ ⠀ #downtozero project is an alliance of #terredeshommes #plannederland #freegirl #defenceforchildren and #iccocooperation . One of the things they do is supporting these shelters.⠀ ⠀ #photography #child #thisisme #exhibition⠀ ⠀ —–⠀ ⠀ This saturday (December 1st), the series will be published in Volkskrant Magazine.

Een bericht gedeeld door Marieke Van Der Velden (@marieke.van.der.velden) op

Phed (13 jaar)

 

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Phed (13) is from the far Northwest of Thailand. His father was very poor and suffered from mental disturbances and would often have sex with women in the one-room that he and his son shared. When Phed began displaying similar behaviours towards a girl at school, the girl’s family reported Phed and the school decided that his father was not a suitable guardian and referred him to the shelter. ⠀ ⠀ When Phed first came at 12 it was discovered that he had been sexually exploited and when asked about it, he disclosed that he had been assaulted by a foreigner in a temple. Phed suffered from many behavioural issues in his first year at the shelter. He had violent tendencies and very reclusive. In the past year he has grown a lot. His behaviour has improved and he is doing really well in school.⠀ ⠀ —⠀ ⠀ On assignment for Down to Zero, I went to Thailand last summer with color pencils and paper in my suitcase. I let children who were/are victimes of commercial sexual exploitation draw their own faces or – if they want – a fantasy creature they feel connected with. 16 Portraits will be exhibited in #Humanityhouse The Hague from November 20th till December 16th. ⠀ ⠀ —⠀ ⠀ #downtozero project is an alliance of #terredeshommes #plannederland #freegirl #defenceforchildren and #iccocooperation . One of the things they do is supporting these shelters.⠀ ⠀ #photography #child #thisisme #exhibition⠀ ⠀ —⠀ ⠀ This saturday (December 1st), the series will be published in Volkskrant Magazine!⠀

Een bericht gedeeld door Marieke Van Der Velden (@marieke.van.der.velden) op

Heng (12 jaar)

 

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Heng (12) was brought to Thailand illegally from Cambodia. Along with his younger brother Leo, Heng’s mother and another woman trafficked the boys as well as other children into Thailand for labour purposes. The children were forced to beg for money and were exposed to the sex trade through life on the streets. ⠀ ⠀ After his mother was arrested, Heng was sent to a shelter. He was only 12 years-old when he arrived and severely malnourished and ill. In the beginning, Heng wasn’t used to discipline or chores and struggled to find balance in his life. He had never been to school in either Thailand or Cambodia and could not read or write his language.⠀ ⠀ He is now enrolled in school in grade one. He goes every day, eats healthy meals, and enjoys his chores feeding the chickens and fish around the shelter. He is a very responsible boy and recovering well.⠀ ⠀ —⠀ ⠀ On assignment for Down to Zero, I went to Thailand last summer with color pencils and paper in my suitcase. I let children who were/are victimes of commercial sexual exploitation draw their own faces or – if they want – a fantasy creature they feel connected with. 16 Portraits will be exhibited in #Humanityhouse The Hague from November 20th till December 16th. ⠀ ⠀ —⠀ ⠀ #downtozero project is an alliance of #terredeshommes #plannederland #freegirl #defenceforchildren and #iccocooperation . One of the things they do is supporting these shelters.⠀ ⠀ #photography #child #thisisme #exhibition⠀ ⠀ —⠀ ⠀ This saturday (December 1st), the series will be published in Volkskrant Magazine!⠀

Een bericht gedeeld door Marieke Van Der Velden (@marieke.van.der.velden) op

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Heftig! Kinderen zelf aan het woord over seksuele uitbuiting
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