Photographer Shines Light On Libyan Slave Trade With 'Not For Sale' Series

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Reports have been flooding the web surrounding the ongoing slave trade in Libya, where refugees are being bought and sold like cattle while trying to flee unsafe conditions in their home land.

Libya is the main transit point for refugees and migrants trying to reach Europe by sea, and a crackdown by the Libyan coast guard has led to a surplus of refugee passengers expecting to be smuggled in, but alternatively, left with nowhere to go.

In turn, smugglers have now subjected the stranded refugees to being bought and sold as workers to actual "masters." This is the American slave trade we all know so well from our history, yet still going on in present day. 

(Photo: Kofi Dua)

One stroll through Twitter will show a continued onslaught of conversation surrounding the topic, question where is the help for these mostly Libyan men being sold off into an unclear fate.

Footage of the trades has now surfaced online, causing many to wonder what kind of world we're living in if people can be bought and sold by the boatload. If refugees are being subjected to being hurdled in slave trades, how far has the human race really come?

According to the Time, "In each of the last three years, 150,000 people have made the dangerous crossing across the Mediterranean Sea from Libya. For four years in a row, 3,000 refugees have died while attempting the journey, according to figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the U.N.’s migration agency."

Reports now show an estimate of 400,000 to almost one million people now bottled up Libya detention centers, overrun by terror, reports of robbery, rape, and murder. Conditions in the centers have been described as “horrific,” and among other inhumane abuses, migrants have to worry about be being sold off as laborers in slave auctions.

(Photo: Kofi Dua)

One photographer chose to take this depressing topic, however, and turn it into art– bringing awareness to the issue through photography.

23-year-old New York-based photographer, Kofi Dua, called upon models Kwasi Opoku and Mylah Shyv for what he describes as a PSA editorial for the The Libyan Slave Trade, entitled Not For Sale.

"I got my inspiration from the news feed and social media. I felt like to create better awareness of the problem, I had to do a PSA editorial to start up the conversation," Kofi explained to Yahoo

The shoot, consisting of an implied father and daughter duo shows the models in a forest setting with a tag reading NOT FOR SALE looped around the young girl's ankle. 

The Ghana-born photographer shared one of the images to Instagram, writing, "WE ARE NOT FOR SALE! All lives must be cherished and valued."

"It is our duty to stand for injustice and hold people responsible for their actions. We are not for sale. We shall not go backwards but forward."

The series has become widely shared on social media as a whole and is a beautifully captured, yet saddening reminder, of the work still needed to be done in order to stop the dehumanization of people across the world. 

(Photo: Kofi Dua)

(Photo: Kofi Dua)