Human trafficking didn’t end with the abolition of slavery, it has only taken on more modern forms. And its victims are mainly young women and girls, whether brought from South East Asia to rich Arab nations to work as domestic servants or winding up in the dark corners of the sex business.

According to estimates by the International Labour Organization (ILO), 40 million people are currently trapped in slave-like conditions where their work or their bodies are exploited. This affects the Philippines as well, where minors, mostly from poor villages in remote parts of the country, are lured with the promise of a better life in the city just to find themselves living in a nightmare instead.

US photographer Matilde Simas met young girls, some of them only 9 years old, in the protected spaces of an aid organization at the airport in Manila, where they have been intercepted on their way to Saudi Arabia. Here they receive psychological help and are kept safe.

Curriculum Vitae: Matilde Simas, USA (Freelance Photographer)

Portrait: Matilde Simas

© Matilde Simas

Matilde Simas, born in 1973, studied at the Suffolk University in Boston and studied photography at the Rhode Island School of Design. As a photographer and filmmaker, she traveled to more than 50 countries and early on started to fully commit herself to human rights and the fight against violations of the rights of women and children. Since 2017, she has been a member of the organization “Capture Humanity”. For her work, which has been exhibited in numerous exhibitions worldwide, she has received multiple awards. Her work covers topics such as female genital mutilation, child labor and child prostitution.


More information on the competition and the UNICEF Photo of the Year 2019 reportages.

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Renowned photographers from all over the world take part in the contest. An independent jury decides upon the winner.

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