Living in Solitude

Shortlist 2018

Manel Quiros

Manel Quiros (1984) is Spanish photographer from Barcelona based in the United Kingdom since 2010. He has studied professional photography at the University of Valencia and Visual Communication and Photojournalism in Edinburgh and Glasgow. He has collaborated with CC ONG, Naya Nagar ONGD, Red Cross Spain, Red Cross Burkinabe, UNHCR (United Nations Refugee Agency) and WFP (World Food Programme). He works on long photographic editorial projects. Awards: IPA '17 (International Photography Awards - International), first place; Editorial Photographer of the Year - MIFA '17 (Moscow International Foto Awards); third place: People Category Winner - World Press Photo '17. Nominated to the Joop Swart Master Class.

The Problem

Living in Solitude

Her name was Reena. It did not matter that she was only twelve, that all she wanted was to survive the streets of Chittagong in Bangladesh after being thrown out by her stepfather. The trap was simple enough: she was desperate for a job and met a lady who promised her a job selling garments in Dhaka. She never made it to Dhaka. She was taken to Banishanta island instead, sold to a Madame, and there they took her name, took her innocence and made her faceless and nameless, with no money, honour or freedom.

Banishanta is a tiny island in Mongla, southern Bangladesh, occupied by a brothel, one of twenty legal brothels in the country. It is staffed by women who have been kidnapped and sold. Most are unregistered at birth and have no identification papers, which makes it nearly impossible for them to leave the islet in search of a better life when they are no longer of value to their Madame. Drugs and alcohol are part of the daily routine, a means to escape the pain of their existence. The girls are isolated on Banishanta, so they are forced to learn to live in each other's company, where they form friendships and families. But this is all a make-believe facade for the sake of their sanity. In truth every girl lives alone.