San Jose art exhibit “Peep” highlights human trafficking issue

March 12, 2016

Small circular viewing holes expose the faces of hundreds of children, each symbolizing a stolen childhood. The art piece, “Peep,” sheds light on the shadowy human trafficking industry in peep show style. But, unlike a normal peep show, the exhibit exposes the horrors people face when trafficked.

Created by Bay Area artist Jonathan Fung, “Peep” draws attention to the often overlooked issue through bright jumbo pink letters spray painted on the side of a large metal shipping container. The container is a metaphor for the commodification of human beings, according to a panel on the side of the exhibit.

“Seeing all of the faces of those kids and knowing that so many like them are enslaved, it’s not a good feeling,” said Patrick Johnson, 21, Santa Clara University student. “I’m disgusted that people have to go through this in our modern world.”

The rows of sewing machines lining the other side of the exhibit evoke the image of countless hours of soul crushing labor.

DSC_0483Photo Credit: Matt Shamshoian

Tens of millions of people are kidnapped and forced into labor and sex slavery to meet the needs of the thriving human trafficking industry, according to the exhibit’s panel. The multi billion dollar industry is thriving in the Bay Area, which FBI named one of the top 13 destinations for child sex trafficking in the United States.

Looking out of place on the city streets of San Jose, the exhibit echoes the harsh but unseen reality of human trafficking within the communities we live in.

“At first, I didn’t really believe there was any human trafficking going on in the United States,” Johnson said. “I especially didn’t think there was any going on in the Bay Area.”

The art piece description says that, despite the lack of awareness about human trafficking, more and more people are forced into ruthless modern day slavery every day. Human trafficking remains a growing trend and shows no signs of stopping.

“Peep” gives faces to the faceless victims of human trafficking that are often unnoticed, overlooked or even ignored.

DSC_0468Photo Credit: Matt Shamshoian

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