Online exhibition: The Daughters of Darkness

The Daughters of Darkness

There are worlds within worlds, regardless of whether inside a physical boundary or in the open, completely hidden from most of us. Bound by basic curious nature, every now and then someone takes a peak and comes back with words or pictures, to speak about the strange hidden worlds. More often than not, this results in impressions that seem very exotic.In the case of prostitution, we either tend to see it as a bad element of society or treat it as people in vulnerable situations. Exactly because of this very reason, we fail to give them a chance to be what they may be — just ordinary people. Their basic humane aspects and sensibilities are all too often ignored. There are tales, though at first seem like fine representations of the lives of people in the brothel, but at times penetrate too deep into their lives and show gross images beyond the curtains — images depicting scenes from their personal or professional lives, leaving no room or respect for their privacy.

Najma, a young sex worker at the Kandupatti brothel in Dhaka said, "No matter how hard you try, you won't even come close to understanding our grieves." We the thinkers, the so-called "saviours" and the people with power, in our efforts to protect the identities of the "vulnerable," mask their eyes with black tapes, and whether we intend it or not, make them look like criminals. We disguise their identities and in the process, we take away their right to be. Sometimes these dark areas are actually dark, but at times we fail to open our eyes. We approach such areas with a close mind and try to fit everything we see into pre-constructed boxes in our own minds. Thus, in spite of all the efforts, the daughters of darkness remain in the dark. ........Shezad Noorani, Dhaka.

Shezad Noorani, a freelance photographer in Bangladesh, has been documenting the daily lives and struggles of sex workers in different brothels around the country for more than eight (8) years. His work on 'the Daughters of Darkness' is selected into this month's (February, 99) Online Exhibition. A renowned photographer, Shezad Noorani has already got his work published in prestigious international publications like New York TimesLe MondeIndependentGuardian, and International, and is represented by different picture agencies both at home and abroad.

Published: February 13, 1999

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