Chapter 6 of William T. Vollmann's Poor People is the first chapter in the "Phenomena" section and is called "Invisibility." The chapter examines the different ways in which poor people are invisible to those who are more affluent and contains examples from Afghanistan, Yemen, Burma, the USA, Vietnam, Hungary, and Pakistan.
Vollmann points out that wealthy and middle-class people around the world tend not to notice poverty when it is all around them. He asks why this is and whether it is intentional. He comes up with a number of ideas, none of them mutually exclusive. Affluent people do not know how to solve the problem of poverty and are therefore driven to ignore it. They do not want to confront poverty because one of their worst fears is ending up in this position themselves. Society and government collude with the individual in hiding poverty from view.
The author also discusses culturally specific ways of hiding poverty. In Afghanistan and other Islamic countries, the burqa renders women invisible, as do various cultural prohibitions on women making themselves conspicuous. Combined with laws against begging, these factors make the widespread poverty of women effectively invisible.