• 'Untitled' from the series By The River. © Ian Flanders.

    'Untitled' from the series By The River. © Ian Flanders.

  • 'Untitled' from the series By The River. © Ian Flanders.

    Translation: Something would happened to me, and I would be beaten up and not allowed to abandon here. If paid up, there should be no trouble. Over here is very powerful, can't fight them.

  • 'Untitled' from the series By The River. © Ian Flanders.

    Translation: Anh and I are two sisters and were born by the same mother, do you understand?

  • 'Untitled' from the series By The River. © Ian Flanders.

    Translation: What is your idea of misery? The worst pain in my life is when my husband left me and my child, but I am alright just sorry for my child because she lost a father at a young age but because I am poor so that my husband left me and my child. but this poverty was God's arrangement for me so I have to accept it without resignation, I only hope that I have a sum money so I can repay all their debt then I will go back to live by my child and mother's side.

  • 'Untitled' from the series By The River. © Ian Flanders.

    Translation: I have been here a long time, and would also like to go home. Through your helps to my friend Anh, I know you are a good person. You have given Anh money so she could go home and did not have to continue to do this kind of work. Anh and I live close to each other in Vietnam. Anh’s current life is very good and she often asks about you. Anh asks me when you come around, can you go back to Vietnam to visit her. If possible, can you stay here with me tomorrow, I can guarantee nothing will happen and more time to talk. I also have a lot to tell you. As for the other girls, they don’t look at things the way as Anh and myself therefore I am worry that will cause you trouble. I hope you understand.

  • 'Untitled' from the series By The River. © Ian Flanders.

    'Untitled' from the series By The River. © Ian Flanders.

  • 'Untitled' from the series By The River. © Ian Flanders.

    Translation: I borrowed money in advance for my family, I have owed them a lot of money, up to seven hundred dollars. Have to work until the end of the month to get pay. If I want to get out of here, I have to pay all of my debt; do you understand? You promise me that my picture here would not be published in newspaper otherwise death is on the way, if you have compassion on me you take me back to Australia, then that's no problem. I am really worried about this.

  • 'Untitled' from the series By The River. © Ian Flanders.

    Translation: I also want to leave here but it will be impossible. Because I have owed them here much money there's no way to pay off. For 5 years I haven’t been able to go back home to see my family, I miss them very much. I wish someday someone would take compassion on me and pay off the debt for me, how happy it was then. In here by making small mistakes will be beaten terribly, I am very afraid of being beaten.

  • 'Untitled' from the series By The River. © Ian Flanders.

    Translation: When I came here I was told to work as a sale assistant in the bar. Because the person who took me here had told me that I could earn a lot of money, so I agreed to go in order to make money for supporting my parents and younger siblings. When being here then I’ve just knew such a job I have no choice but to accept it, because my family does not have money to take care of my younger siblings schooling.

  • 'Untitled' from the series By The River. © Ian Flanders.

    Translation: I don’t need anything at all in terms of happiness, what I only need is some day I could live with my mother and my child. That's enough happiness for me.

Showcase: Ian Flanders

Ian Flanders' series 'By The River' was selected from our call for entries for our upcoming Annual on 'Women'.

After three long years of helping to build a bridge to freedom for a group of enslaved prostitutes in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, the last thing Ian expected was the confronting realisation that opportunity was not enough. The arduous and precarious task of building trust and developing relationships with some of these women – who had no reason to trust anyone – had educated him in the complexity of their lives. Ian grappled with the likes of the women’s cultural beliefs, local realities and a sense of filial duty that further inhibited the women from leaving. He secretively built up relationships with many of the women surviving in small shacks and shelters where they never strayed. In particular, a desperate woman named Anh and her ‘dangerously’ coming-of-age daughter assisted him in discovering and documenting a shocking system of debt slavery where young women had to work off never ending payments to their controlling traffickers.

However, he simply could not cast aside his own morality after witnessing first hand the young women feeding their drug addiction, bruises from beatings, self-harm and submitting to their work duty no matter the condition of their health.

On November 12th 2014, the shacks were raided and eight women and three children were rescued, while two traffickers were charged and prosecuted.

Unfortunately, many of the women returned to the only thing they knew, to their addictions and to where the pressure to change disappeared and things made sense.

Disclaimer: Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

'Untitled' from the series By The River. © Ian Flanders.
‘Untitled’ from the series By The River. © Ian Flanders.
'Untitled' from the series By The River. © Ian Flanders.
Translation: Something would happened to me, and I would be beaten up and not allowed to abandon here. If paid up, there should be no trouble. Over here is very powerful, can’t fight them.
'Untitled' from the series By The River. © Ian Flanders.
Translation: Anh and I are two sisters and were born by the same mother, do you understand?
'Untitled' from the series By The River. © Ian Flanders.
Translation: What is your idea of misery?
The worst pain in my life is when my husband left me and my child, but I am alright just sorry for my child because she lost a father at a young age but because I am poor so that my husband left me and my child. but this poverty was God’s arrangement for me so I have to accept it without resignation, I only hope that I have a sum money so I can repay all their debt then I will go back to live by my child and mother’s side.
'Untitled' from the series By The River. © Ian Flanders.
Translation: I have been here a long time, and would also like to go home. Through your helps to my friend Anh, I know you are a good person. You have given Anh money so she could go home and did not have to continue to do this kind of work. Anh and I live close to each other in Vietnam. Anh’s current life is very good and she often asks about you. Anh asks me when you come around, can you go back to Vietnam to visit her. If possible, can you stay here with me tomorrow, I can guarantee nothing will happen and more time to talk. I also have a lot to tell you. As for the other girls, they don’t look at things the way as Anh and myself therefore I am worry that will cause you trouble. I hope you understand.
'Untitled' from the series By The River. © Ian Flanders.
‘Untitled’ from the series By The River. © Ian Flanders.
'Untitled' from the series By The River. © Ian Flanders.
Translation: I borrowed money in advance for my family, I have owed them a lot of money, up to seven hundred dollars. Have to work until the end of the month to get pay. If I want to get out of here, I have to pay all of my debt; do you understand? You promise me that my picture here would not be published in newspaper otherwise death is on the way, if you have compassion on me you take me back to Australia, then that’s no problem. I am really worried about this.
'Untitled' from the series By The River. © Ian Flanders.
Translation: I also want to leave here but it will be impossible. Because I have owed them here much money there’s no way to pay off. For 5 years I haven’t been able to go back home to see my family, I miss them very much. I wish someday someone would take compassion on me and pay off the debt for me, how happy it was then. In here by making small mistakes will be beaten terribly, I am very afraid of being beaten.
'Untitled' from the series By The River. © Ian Flanders.
Translation: When I came here I was told to work as a sale assistant in the bar. Because the person who took me here had told me that I could earn a lot of money, so I agreed to go in order to make money for supporting my parents and younger siblings. When being here then I’ve just knew such a job I have no choice but to accept it, because my family does not have money to take care of my younger siblings schooling.
'Untitled' from the series By The River. © Ian Flanders.
Translation: I don’t need anything at all in terms of happiness, what I only need is some day I could live with my mother and my child. That’s enough happiness for me.

More of Ian’s work can be seen here.

'Untitled' from the series Single Saudi Women. © Wasma Mansour.
Related project: Showcase

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