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Powerful Portraits of Bangladeshis Disfigured by Acid Attacks

ken_hermann_Photography

Name: Umma
Age: 22
Occupation: Student
Attack date: 19/02/2008
Reason: Marital dispute
Relation with the perpetrator: Husband
Legal condition of the case: Case is in High Court for appeal but pending due to financial and bureaucratic problems.

Survivors is a multimedia production by Copenhagen-based photographer Ken Hermann and video journalist Tai Klan combining a series of portraits and a documentary about people in Bangladesh who have been disfigured by acid attacks. While on assignment last year for Save The Children, Hermann got in contact with the NGO Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) based in Dhaka, the capital city. After a year of Hermann expressing interest, ASF finally allowed him access to begin the project, and have since helped him locate subjects along the way. Hermann notes this is a story about people, not victims—he says, “We wanted to create a visual universe with emphasis on the beauty of each face. Portraits of acid victims often create a strong reaction from audiences. In contrast we aspired to reveal the person behind the scars by focusing on the fragility and gracefulness of the people in front us.”

Since 1999, more than 3,100 people in Bangladesh have been disfigured by acid attacks. Most acid attacks are directed against women under the age of 35 and from men they already know. They are typically motivated by suspicions of infidelity, rejection of marriage offers, demands for dowry, and disputes over land. ASF has worked to lower this number, and only 71 cases were recorded last year, a reduction by almost 85% from just 10 years ago. Because medical treatments and surgeries are so expensive, most victims go on living with “marks of cruelty literally branded into their faces and bodies. Stigmatization follows, and rebuilding life and setting new goals for the future require both determination and strength.” Hermann’s portraits are arresting, telling. One story at a time, Hermann and Klan are capturing “the personal strength of people whose lives were radically changed when they became victims of other people’s hunger for revenge.”

ken_hermann_Photography

Name: Abdul
Age: 48
Occupation: Muezzin
Attack date: 30/07/1987
Reason: Land dispute
Relation with the perpetrator: Cousin
Legal condition of the case: Case filed in 1987 but no subsequent action taken.

ken_hermann_Photography
Name: Jahanara
Age: 27
Occupation: Employee of ASF
Attack date: 10/03/2001
Reason: Family related dispute
Relation with the perpetrator: Cousin
Legal condition of the case: Mutually resolved

ken_hermann_Photography

Name: Monirujjaman
Age: 27
Occupation: Employee of ASF
Attack Date: 28/10/1998
Reason: Mother rejected marriage proposal of perpetrator (i.e. was not main target)
Relation with the perpetrator: Neighbor
Legal condition of the case: Mutually resolved.

ken_hermann_Photography
Name: Shamim
Age: 45
Occupation: Employee of ASF
Attack Date: 01/08/1984
Reason: Revenge for engaging in extra marital affair
Relation with the perpetrator: Husband of the woman who had extra marital affair with victim
What is the legal condition of the case: Mutually resolved.

ken_hermann_Photography
Name: Shamsun
Age: 43
Occupation: Housewife
Attack Date: 17/12/1998
Reason: Refusal to engage in affair
Relation with the perpetrator: Private tutor of her children
Legal condition of the case: Perpetrator has been punished by the rules of Bangladeshi law

ken_hermann_Photography
Name: Anita
Age: 30
Occupation: Farmer
Attack date: 18/02/2002
Reason: Refusal of marriage proposal
Relation with the perpetrator : Neighbor
What is the legal condition of the case: Running.

ken_hermann_Photography
Name: Shamol
Age: 14
Occupation: Student
Attack date: 18/02/2002
Reason: Mother’s refusal of marriage proposal from perpetrator (i.e. was not main target)
Relation with the perpetrator : Neighbor
What is the legal condition of the case: Running.

ken_hermann_Photography

Name: Selina
Age: 42
Occupation: Housewife
Attack date: 06/06/1995
Reason: Refusal of love/marriage
Relation with the perpetrator: Cousin
What is the legal condition of the case: Running.

ken_hermann_Photography

Name: Shamsun
Age: 29
Occupation: Housewife
Attack Date: 09/03/2006
Reason: Land Dispute
Relation with the perpetrator: Relative
Legal condition of the case: Running

ken_hermann_Photography

Name: Mokammala
Age: 43
Occupation: Employee of ASF
Attack Date: 16/04/1998
Reason: Victimized as her sister (Runa Laila another survivor) rejected love proposal
Relation with the perpetrator: Neighbor
What is the legal condition of the case: The perpetrator has been punished by the rules of Bangladeshi Law.

ken_hermann_Photography
Name: Asma
Age: 25
Occupation: Employee of ASF
Reason: Family related dispute
Attack Date: 17/09/2002
Relation with the perpetrator: Neighbor
What is the legal condition of the case: Perpetrator has been punished by the rules of Bangladeshi law.

  • Michael

    Can some please explain what it means by ” punished by the rules of Bangladeshi law”, I read I think it was New York Times or the Guardian that In 2002, Bangladesh introduced the death penalty for throwing acid, is this what they mean?. Overall a great series that highlights not only the horrific attacks, and heart breaking stories of the people involved but also the strength of each individual.

    It is fantastic news that in Bangladesh acid attacks have declined, unfortunately they are at an all time high as well as each year they are on the rise in Pakistan. European countries such as Great Britain, German and Belgium have also recorded an increase in acid attacks.

  • http://--- skbansal

    It is just natural attachment with opposite. other part may like or not but it is natural attachment. society may think otherwise. This behaviour is also in animals too. When one goes for revenge then his behavour just of animal. Land of law will take its own course

  • Frank

    What does it mean to say that the legal condition of the case is “Running”? (Is that the project’s way of saying “in progress”…?)