Tim Matsui documents Sex Trafficking

From 7-9pm young women, ages 15 to 22, prepare for a night of work at the Violin Karaoke bar in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Their job is to sell drinks to customers who book the karaoke rooms; in the neighboring dance club, also part of the Violin, there are cocktail waitresses. However, many are also freelance sex workers or ‘bar girls’ who make their own arrangements with the customers for a ‘date.’ Most of the customers are asian; they are either Thai, Korean, Chinese, or Japanese. The Thai sex industry model is rapidly developing in the Cambodian capitol, Phnom Penh. Tim Matsui

Over the course of three years, Tim Matsui documented human trafficking in Cambodia. His work on sex trafficking there was one of the powerful chapters of this work. He showed the world the poverty that drives the women to work as prostitutes, their preparations for their clients, their long nights, the women who have been destroyed by the trade, made drug addicts to keep them more pliant, and the johns looking for these women and younger. He also showed us those who got out. This work is on Tim’s Alexia portfolio page.

He showed the world the women who have been destroyed by the trade, made drug addicts to keep them more pliant

On the basis of his work there, Tim Matsui applied for and received the Alexia Foundation Women’s Initiative Grant to document the sex trafficking of minors in the United States. He has focused his project on Seattle and King County, where the Sheriff’s office has made great efforts to give women in prostitution a way to leave it as opposed to simply penalizing their work.

Tim has powerfully documented the progress of his project as he has proceeded in the “Leaving the Life” blog posts written for the Alexia Foundation. Tim has brought us along with him as he documents domestic minor sex trafficking, introducing us to the people he has met and the difficult situations he has witnessed.

Now, Tim is in South Africa, with Alexia Foundation Executive Director, Jim Dooley, and Alexia 2012 Professional Winner, Justin Maxon. The three are sharing their stories and their wisdom, as the learn from their South African counterparts in Grahamstown, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Tim has invited us along for this voyage, sharing his experiences on Instagram, handle @timmatsui. You can follow along on his Facebook or Twitter to see all of the updates.

The Alexia Foundation supports our grantees to produce stories and images that drive change. See previous photos of the day here.

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