Lingering Scars

Lingering Scars tells the story of women who are victims of acid and burns in Bangladesh. It highlights violence and social oppression of women.

Violence against women is a global phenomenon. In Bangladesh, reports of violence against women are on the rise. Oftentimes, it takes the form of acid attacks, which are estimated to occur every two days, the majority of sufferers being female, caused by their  intimate partners, spouse, boyfriend or the person whom they refused to love. Violence against women is closely linked to the institute of marriage, whereby the woman is considered to be guilty for any family breakup or divorce and living alone is difficult. These views on marriage are deeply embedded in cultural and socio-economic practices. Violence against women is sanctioned by both society and the state, but in the name of culture, tradition and religious practices, women are usually forced to live with their abusive spouse to maintain social norms.

According to Acid Survival Foundation(ASF) in Bangladesh, from 1999 to 2011 there were 2539 acid attacks and among them 1084 were women. The ratio between male and female victims indicates the extent of violence and discrimination against women in our society.

Behind The Darkness

“I don’t want people to see me  as a differently able or disable person”, but I want them to see me as a normal people like other.” Says Shompa.

They are visually impaired, have lost their vision from childhood and don’t have any difference between light and darkness. But they have a dream, thirst for life and are trying hard to build their life with dream and hope.

Ian parry Scholarship 2013

Farzana Hossen, a student at Pathshala South Media Institute in Dhaka, Bangladesh, has won the 2013 Ian Parry Scholarship for her project “Lingering Scars,” about the rise in violence against women in Bangladesh. Hossen receives 3,500 pounds (approximately $5,450 US), a commission from Save the Children, publication of her Project in The Sunday Times Magazine, representation from Reportage by Getty Images as part of their Emerging Talent group, and equipment from Canon. She will also becomes a finalist for the shortlist of photographers selected for Joop Swart Masterclass, conducted by World Press Photo.

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The Silent Wound

Since the 2011 Egyptian revolution, reporting incidences of sexual assault have increased at an alarming rate.

According to UN Women, 99.3% of Egyptian females have suffered sexual harassment in Egypt, while 91.5% have experienced unwelcome physical contact. “It’s better to be silent; if you scream for help or hit back to protest, you will face more problems,” said Alia Ali, a 22 year-old activist, who survived mob sexual assault in Tahrir Square. “No one will help you; you will even be blamed for the way you dress, even if you wear a hijab. It is always your fault because you are a girl on the street walking alone without any male!”

Sexual harassment has increased alarmingly since the 2011 Egyptian revolution, taking the form of organized attacks such as gang rape. Women played a key role in the protests, taking part in the demonstrations along with their male friends. According to the women I photographed, the government had historically used sexual violence as a weapon against women in a bid to suppress the voice of the public. Egypt is a conservative country, where the concept of honor plays an important role. The individual is subordinate to the family, and to admit to being a victim of rape would equate admitting that the family was not able to protect the individual. The shame may be even worse to bear than the actual rape.

Egyptian women face obstructions even in the justice system. The Shura Council’s human rights committee has accused female protestors of being prostitutes, with Major General Adel Afify even being quoted in the local newspaper, Al-Masry Al-Youm, as saying, “By getting herself involved in such circumstances, the woman has 100 percent responsibility.”