Born Into Brothels – Zana Briski, Ross Kauffman


Born Into Brothels is a documentary on Zana Briski’s experience of teaching photography to the children living in the brothels of the redlight district in Calcutta, India.  The documentary shows the daily lives of the children and what their environment is like.  It also discusses the issues the children face, such as getting closer to the age where they are put on the line, absent parents, and other forms of abuse.  The photography Briski teaches them allows the children to have an outlet and form of expression.  The documentary discusses the effects human trafficking can have on children and the importance of having something to look forward to when there is nothing else.

The scene in which Briski takes all the children to the beach shows the positive effects of the photography.  By having an outlet and way to express themselves, the children are able to have something to look forward to and be happy about, even if their day to day lives are hard.  At the beach, the children are all having fun and are excited to get out out the redlight district where they live.  On the way back home they are still enjoying themselves on the bus, but once they have to walk back home there is a sense of dread and unhappiness from the scene.  The viewer can easily feel the tenseness that comes from the children having to return home to their everyday lives.  Throughout the documentary there is a tenseness and worry about what will happen to these children if they do not get out of the redlight district.  The documentary also discusses the issue faced by those in the redlight district, the lack of money and opportunities due to their place of residence and current occupations.  It was very hard for Briski to get the children into boarding schools, because no one would accept the children of prostitutes.  These families are being forced into a cycle of poverty and are unable to get anywhere due to the restrictions and limitations placed on them.  Born Into Brothels is a harsh awakening to the issues of human trafficking and the lives of the children that have to live in it.

What was your reaction to the end of the documentary, reading the updates on the children’s situations?

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