Even though many of us likely imagine that slavery is a relic of the ancient past, the practice is alive and well. Since 2009, photographer Lisa Kristine has been documenting those caught up in the barbaric trade. Her images are shocking, powerful, in-your-face. Yet they are also dignified portraits of those with no choice. “No matter how dire, how hard their experience of life has been because of their suffering as a slave, these people still have dignity, sensitivity, humanness and beauty,” she said on the phone from her home in California, shortly before another trip saw her head off to southeast Asia. “These images are not intended to be spectacles of horror; they’re intended to engage people in connecting so we realize we’re all brothers and sisters.” Here, take a look at 17 of Kristine’s astonishingly powerful photographs.

Here, watch Lisa Kristine’s TED Talk, Photos that bear witness to modern slavery — and three other TED Talks that tackle the topic:

For more of Lisa Kristine’s work, see lisakristine.com.