Since 2019, Vietnamese photographer Nhàn Tran has been documenting the stories of young mothers in the Hmong community in Hà Giang province, Vietnam.
The Hmong are one of the largest indigenous minority groups in Vietnam, and mostly reside in the mountainous regions of North Vietnam. They are also amongst the most impoverished communities in Vietnam, and traditionally lead an agrarian lifestyle, with many families eking out a living by farming the land. Their strongly patriarchal, patrilineal culture often sees women shoulder the bulk of domestic labour and childcare, with little to no say in family decisions.
Despite national laws that state that marriage can only lawfully take place at the age of 18 for women and 20 for men, Hmong girls frequently marry before they reach a legal age, and bear children soon after. Nhàn Tran’s long-term project aims to explore the lives of these young women as they are forced to grow up before their time, navigating their roles as wives, mothers and daughters-in-law, even as they hold on to their dreams and hopes. Many of them aspire to move to larger cities and towns to earn a higher wage, to provide a better life for their families and escape the cycle of poverty.
In addition to images of several young women whom Nhàn Tran has been photographing over the years, this exhibition showcases a deep dive into the life of one of her subjects, Máy. The images illustrate Máy’s resilience and precarity as she deals with the challenges of raising a family at the age of 19. Her situation is shared by numerous young Hmong women, who similarly grapple with the difficulties of balancing traditional practices with modern needs, and their own youthful nature with familial duty.
Above all, the project underlines the importance of hearing from and caring for unrepresented and vulnerable communities, amid a wider movement towards social, economic and gender equality.
Venue: Objectifs, Chapel Gallery
When: 24 Mar - 17 Apr 2022,