Ask Bramwell Ryan to tell you about his travels, and you might hear about how as a young man he worked in the Alps as a shepherd. He might tell you about the months he spent with his family, tracing a path around the Mediterranean, or maybe about the two-month working trip he and his son Benjamin made through south Asia just last winter. Regardless of where his stories start, chances are that at some point he’d tell you about meeting Eti. This is how he tells that story:
Eti was a 13-year-old prostitute, sold into the trade by her family. She is forever an outcast. No matter how hard she works she’ll never fully discharge the debt she owes to the people who own her. And her story isn’t unique. When I met her, Eti was one of 264 prostitutes working in five side-by-side brothels in a small out-of-the-way regional town in a south Asian country. An estimated 60% of those girls were under 15. And they are only a few of the hundreds of thousands of prostitutes around the world. Eti is a drop in the river of tears that floats hard words like trafficking, exploitation, bribery, beatings and rejection.
But that day, despite the barriers of culture, gender, age and language, I got to know Eti. I spent time talking to her—through a translator—and shooting pictures and video as she got ready for the day. She turned a general story into a specific one. For me the story is no longer about prostitution, it’s about Eti.
The short video Bram created from that visit—“The Monster’s in the Bed”—is posted on our website, and can be viewed by clicking here.
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Bramwell Ryan is a writer and photographer who currently lives in Winnipeg and regularly fills one of the front pews at saint benedict’s table