Paris: Baras / Les Roses d'Acier

Nick Kozak


Paris has long served as a migrant hub. Full of hope, these newcomers arrive in search of better lives; however, they face insurmountable barriers when trying to secure legal employment and housing.

The Baras collective (le collectif Baras), has been squatting in a former employment centre in the Parisian suburb of Bagnolet for over a year. The members of this group of more than one hundred West African male migrants share a similar history: after fleeing the Libyan civil war in 2011, they travelled by boat to Italy and obtained residency before migrating to France in search of employment.

The Steel Roses, known as Les Roses d’Acier, is a group of seven Chinese women. They work to defend the rights of all Chinese sex workers in the Parisian neighbourhood of Belleville. After giving their life-savings to agencies that arranged their travel to France, these women learned that they are not legally permitted to work in the country. They turned to prostitution in order to pay debts and support their families in China (who are unaware of their situation).