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We together

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I’ve just returned from a wonderful visit to Graz, Austria, where I attended the opening of the group exhibition ‘We Together’, curated by Maryam Mohammadi.

“We together” brings together female artists with backgrounds in the Middle East, as well as in Europe and the USA. They have in common that they are critical in their photography and video work with female identities and everyday environments, personal situations, dependencies, gender roles and the political changes in a regional as well as global context. 14 different views on women by women.

My work from ‘Hamida’s camp pregnancy‘ was included among the work by fantastic artists like Boushra Almutawakel, Raeda Saadeh, Sonja Hamid and Emine Gozde Sevim to name just a few.

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Raeda Saadeh danced during an intense and haunting performance at the vernissage, visited by a big crowd. Meeting her, getting to know her work, spending some days with both her and Maryam has been heartwarming. Raeda’s vision as an artist, Maryam’s drive and passion to show the world a different view and get people together and connected is incredibly inspiring. Do take a moment to get to know their work.

Until the 18th of December on view in Schaumbad – Freies Atelierhaus, Graz

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#dysturb

schermafbeelding-2016-10-16-om-09-45-03©Nathalie Majerus

I’m so happy and honored that Valentin Bianchi included my photograph of Maryam (not her real name) and her mom in the #dysturb project plastered on the wall of the city of Liège here in Belgium.

#Dysturb is an incredible project created by Pierre Tjerdman and Benjamin Girettein response to the lack of publications of specific news topics in our mainstream media.
They decided to plaster their images on the walls of Paris and with a proper caption, inform people in the city about things happening around the world which magazines and newspapers didn’t publish.

schermafbeelding-2016-10-18-om-22-26-46©Nathalie Majerus

And so now it’s the first time #dysturb is hitting Belgium streets and I couldn’t be happier that they chose an image of mine from the ‘Because I’m a girl’ series on Rape in Pakistan.
The topic of rape, violation and sexual predatory behavior now even seems more of an acute topic with a horrible man like Donald Trump running for the office of President of the United States of America while publicly denouncing and degrading women, even on record saying how he forces himself on women by kissing and groping them without their consent.
It’s beyond mind boggling and I would recommend you watching a speech that Michelle Obama gave a good week ago, stating perfectly what I feel on the topic.

“Strong men, who are truly ROLE MODELS, don’t need to put down Women”

It’s estimated that worldwide 1 in 5 women will become the victim of rape or attempted rape during her life.
Violence against women is prevalent all over the world and rape in particular has become a ‘weapon of war’ and tool to systematically oppress, control and marginalize women.

I started working on the topic of rape in Pakistan in 2011 and continue to do so on each visit. It’s so important as it is still very much a taboo subject.
In Pakistan around 85% of women face various forms of gender-based violence.
Women and girls are being murdered, kidnapped, raped, killed for honor, have acid thrown on to them.
The Pakistani government rarely takes action and the perpetrators are hardly punished. Unreliable statistics hide the actual magnitude of the problem. Data gathered by the police is notoriously unreliable because of underreporting of cases or their refusal to lodge F.I.R.’s (First Information Report) needed to start criminal procedures.

Maryam (not her real name) was raped by her school teacher when she was just 5 years old.
When asked what the biggest change in her daughter was after the rape happened, Maryam’s mother said she wasn’t carefree anymore and didn’t smile as often as she used to…

I walked to the rape and murder site with the father of Ali, a boy who was raped and killed in the outskirts of Karachi. His grandmother crying while the family told me the horrific story of what had happened.

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Besides suffering psychological trauma and the attached stigmatization, the women and their families are often harassed by the families of the rapist.
They blackmail the victims and try to persuade them into dropping the case or settle out of court. Like Jamila, mother of Sobia, a girl who was raped and killed by a young men who she went to school with and whose wedding proposal she refused. The culprit ran away and still to this day is not found and brought to justice. Meanwhile the neighborhood threaten to abuse Jamila’s other still surviving daughter Sana, hoping the family will then drop their court case.

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It’s an uphill battle for all the victims and families I met. Young girls get robbed of their smiles, some women carry lasting physical scars, boys are as vulnerable as girls, their innocence easily taken away.

As always, I continue to work on these topics that become personal to me once you know some of the families. I hope having my image plastered on the walls of Liège and writing about it here will add a little drop of awareness one way or the other.

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‘Us & Them’ – Wendy Marijnissen

The Rise of Populism

Us & Them’ – WENDY MARIJNISSEN. BELGIUM.

In many ways Belgium is a divided country, with various communities at odds with one another. Flemish versus Walloon, right versus left, native inhabitants versus foreigners, us versus them. Here, the veil has become a very loaded and contested symbol. A religious as well as a political emblem. A sign of both empowerment as well as victimization.

Since 2009, community schools all over the country banned all religious symbols on their premises, including the Islamic headscarf. Since 2011, Belgium even has a burqa ban.

It’s estimated that only 50 women in Belgium wear this type of garment, out of a Muslim population of over half a million. So why do we need such drastic measures?Why do we end up stigmatizing Islamic veiling? What gives this piece of cloth such negative meaning?

Former socialist Antwerp Mayor Patrick Janssens went a step further and made a law banning any religious symbols…

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The Rise of Populism in Europe – on the move

Rise Of Populism

Dirk-Jan Visser, In de Polder Dirk-Jan Visser, In de Polder

Andrea Gjestvang, One Day in History Andrea Gjestvang, One Day in History

The Rise of Populism in Europe exhibition opens its doors on April 2nd in Melkweg Gallery in Amsterdam at 5PM. More information click here.

WELCOME!

The project is also featured in the current issue of Le Monde Diplomatique and the new French magazine The Eyes, and from next week on the projects will be broadcasted on Arte, as well.

More on that you can find at The Rise of Populism Facebook

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Pakistan|Every Woman Counts by Wendy Marijnissen

And the second post on Saadia’s wonderful blog on my work in Pakistan. This time the ‘Every women counts’ presentation I made. Take a moment to have a look and do continue discovering Saadia’s great blog on women, women’s rights, Pakistan and much much more.

The Human Lens

With fast growing militancy, Pakistan has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world. It struggles under a corrupt political regime and a system that largely depends on feudal customs. The women face an array of problems and gender discrimination that stems from birth. Even today, most families welcome the birth of a son as compared to a daughter. More than often, cultural practices hinder women from making the choice in partner and having any say on sexual reproductive rights. Most pregnancies are unplanned and women face live and death during child-birth.

Wendy Marijnissen visited Pakistan for the first time in November 2009 with the intent of addressing these different women’s rights issues. Soon after meeting Dr. Shershah Syed, a gynecologist and women’s rights activist, she decided to focus her attention on the maternal mortality and childbirth alone.

Seeing the challenges that these women were facing with…

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Pakistan: A view from within by Wendy Marijnissen

A wonderful interview I did With Saadia of the Human Lens Blog. Enjoy reading and don’t forget to celebrate all the wonderful women in your life. Happy women’s day everyone!

The Human Lens

Pakistani wedding, Lahore 2009© Wendy Marijnissen Pakistani wedding, Lahore 2009© Wendy Marijnissen

“That is why I was in Pakistan. To tell the stories of its people and hopefully make people care” – Wendy Marijnissen

Wendy Marijnissen is a Belgian documentary photographer and has worked in the some of the world’s most conflicted countries. Her work has focused on themes of natural emergencies, rights of women, violence and religious minorities. She has traveled and worked in Europe, Middle East, and Asia.

Q1. Tell us how you got into evolving as a documentary photographer. Also you have been in challenging areas, do you enjoy traveling for your work and being part of new cultures that are so different from your own?

Wendy Marijnissen: I started photographing in the music and theater world in Belgium, but I always had a great interest in news and loved to travel. After photographing many musicians, and artists, I decided to try…

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One Direction

© Wendy Marijnissen

© Wendy Marijnissen

© Wendy Marijnissen

© Wendy Marijnissen

My ears are still ringing when I think about last Sunday’s assignment 🙂

Hundreds of screaming girls during the One Direction fan day in club Carré in Willebroek. Hearts and names of their favorite band member on their faces, love messages on a wall, sprayed tattoos of their choice on their arms and singing their hearts out to their favorite 1D songs. I must say, I had such fun. Yet it is quite scary to see girls go crazy over cardboard copies of their idols and loose their sense of reality completely…

It did remind me however a little bit of my teen idol days in which my sister and I were big fans of girl band the Dolly Dots. Oh yes, pre girl power, which made us dance around and playback their songs with cousins and friends at birthday parties.

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Over een kubus die uiteen viel

Only in Dutch, but here is a very good blog post on the destruction of my image in Utrecht city center during our ‘The Rise of Populism in Europe’ exhibition. A very worthy read! Thank you Jasmijn for sharing your thoughts.

Rise Of Populism

17/09/2013
Jasmijn Steiner

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19 uur, een doodnormale dinsdagavond.
Na een afspraak met een vriendin loop ik naar mijn fiets toe. Daar word ik opgeschrikt door het geluid van scheurend textiel in combinatie met een vrouwenstem die geëmotioneerd schreeuwt.
Al snel loopt de vrouw briesend voorbij: “Zeker weer zo’n Nederlander die dit gemaakt heeft?!” Tien seconden later vallen de puzzelstukjes op hun plaats.
Of beter gezegd, de puzzelstukjes van een kubus vallen van hun plaats.
Op de voorkant van de fotokubus voor het stadhuis staat een in bikini gehulde vrouw afgebeeld. Een moslima of althans, een vrouw die een hoofddoek draagt. De boze vrouw heeft het hoofd uit de afbeelding gesneden.
Als in een film ren ik op de vrouw af en leg haar uit dat de foto onderdeel uitmaakt van het project The Rise of Populism in Europe, waarin bezorgde fotografen het opkomende populisme in Europa onderzoeken.
In dit geval…

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