Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Hidden Scars of of Chow Kit

Everyone knows what Chow Kit is famous for. Some of the most wide-spread knowledge amongst the local folks would be the flocking prostitutes and sex-workers that include trans-gender/transvestites at Chow Kit.  

Hot Afternoon Sun.



Although I have walked the streets of Chow Kit many, many times, I have kept my eyes shut when I passed by these workers. They are human too, they have feeling, and they need to work for a living, though their work require them to compromise on a few moral obligations. Life is often imperfect, it is true that God gave us free will, but many times, it is free will with extremely limited options to choose from. I strongly believe many of them do not intend to walk the path they are walking if they have had given a second chance.


Now the real question is, what the hell are the authorities doing? Where I snapped the photographs, it was only one minute walk away from the nearest police station, which was situated along the SAME street. Sometimes, I do think that the citizens in Chow Kit have been abandoned by the government and society. So many beggars, so many homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks and scrapping for food from the dumpster and so many illegal sex-workers indicating that social illness is running high at an alarming rate.





Instead of spending billions and billions of the hard-earned tax-payers money on creating useless emails for the citizens and funding the 100-storey mega-tower project, why not siphon a few million to just help brighten the social welfare, and really, really take care of the people, especially those in need.

Photography Note:

All photographs were taken with Olympus PEN E-PL1 and the kit lens 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 mk1.

Obviously, this was a clear win situation for a PEN camera in comparison to a DSLR, in a situation where discretion and stealth are paramount.

The shots of the sex-workers were "hip-shots", meaning I shot them without looking at the live-view on the lcd monitor of the camera, and without looking at my subjects. This was the only way I could get so near the subjects and still managed to capture them. I would have been butchered alive if I asked permission to take their photographs, or being caught taking their photographs.

What went through in my mind were: 1) never look at them in the eye 2) maintain relatively fast walking pace, as slow walk will mean that you were trying to do something 3) never make any stop or pause when you make the click happen, just walk fluidly pass them. This differs from my usual street shooting style that "blends into the crowd and scene", because the clear message I was sending the surrounding audience was that "I was just passing by quickly, and I was not a threat."

Baby steps of progress.

It is very degrading for them to have their photographs taken and shown in a public web page here, but I strongly believe the necessity of the cause outweighs whatever elusive "code of ethics" that a photographer should possess.

I sure hope and pray that whatever power there is will bring freedom and salvation to those in need at Chow Kit.

7 comments:

  1. Robin, great article supported with great visuals again. Unfortunately, our government refuses to help these people as doing so would mean they are in support of such groups and this would be unacceptable to the majority of voters (I.e. Of a certain religious majority).

    So it is normally left to some charitable NGO's or church groups to come out and help them whenever they can. Good of you to highlight their situation as many people would know they exist but may not know their faces.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Francis,
    Thanks for your support and reaffirmation of the purpose why I blogged about this issue. The people there have been neglected, but they are all human beings too.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Robin,

    I know this is important. And we have lots of homeless people around here (in Germany) as well.

    Obviously, the best way to photograph them, and make their stories known would be the way of Michael O'Brien (see http://www.amazon.de/Hard-Ground-Tom-Waits/dp/029272649X/ - it's on my Amazon wish list). But to really approach these people, or to even befriend them and getting to know them, takes guts. And lots of strength, because they would ask every penny from you of course. That's why I've never done this until now. Just don't have the time to really hang around with them for months, and also not the heart to say "No" when someone in need would ask for money.

    This is as difficult as it is important, and I've seen no way - until now - how to solve this: report about them, without becoming too involved. Maybe Michael's book can tell me more; who knows? I think he did a great job with it...

    Thanks for posting these shots, mate.

    And cheers,
    Wolfgang

    ReplyDelete
  4. The Japanese consumer may well be more technologically savvy, design-aware and downright picky than others as the article suggests.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The Japanese consumer may well be more technologically savvy, design-aware and downright picky than others as the article suggests.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The Japanese consumer may well be more technologically savvy, design-aware and downright picky than others as the article suggests.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The Japanese consumer may well be more technologically savvy, design-aware and downright picky than others as the article suggests.

    ReplyDelete