- Can beauty prevail when innocent people are disfigured by acid attacks? Can they rise stronger than before, more empowered and determined?
Award winning photographer Ken Hermann and videographer Tai Klan travelled to Bangladesh to answer these questions.
Through the great efforts of the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) the numbers of acid attacks have gone down, however Bangladesh is a country still plagued by acid attacks. In many cases the attack comes from within the family, mostly due to disputes over honour, dowry, property or land. Women, men and children are left with the painful physical and mental scars that stay with them for the rest of their lives.
Focusing on the positive and aesthetic aspects of these otherwise tragic stories, Ken Hermann has created a strong portrait series, while Tai Klan takes us really close to the portrayed with his moving short documentary.
This project is still work in progress.The project will end up with 20 portraits and a web documentary video. Futher more we are working on an exhibition for Copenhagen Photo Festival 6th-16th of June 2013.For more information and to give your suport please visit our IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign - feel free to donate and please do share it.Who are we:Photographer: Ken HermannVideographer: Tai Klan
- Name: Abdul KaderAge: 48Occupation: MuezzinAttack date: 30/07/1987Reason: Land disputeRelation with the perpetrator: CousinLegal condition of the case: Case filed in 1987 but no subsequent action taken.
- Name: Umma Aysha Siddike NilaAge: 22Occupation: StudentAttack date: 19/02/2008Reason: Marital disputeRelation with the perpetrator: HusbandLegal condition of the case: Case is in High Court for appeal but pending due to financial and bureaucratic problems.Her story by ASFNila was only 15 years old when all of her face and parts of her upper arms were burnt by acid. Nila’s aspirations in life until that point had been simple; she had wanted to excel in her studies and one day dreamt of becoming an actress. She used to learn classical dancing and singing. Even today, four years after her attack, Nila’s delicate gestures show that Nila is still a dancer at heart. The after effect of the attack has been that Nila does not regularly learn dancing and singing and only practices during her leisure time. However, despite all adversities and even after missing 5 months of school because of her treatment, she took her Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSC) and achieved an A grade.Nila had always been a pretty girl and when Akbar Hossain Jilhuq, a man who was 20 years older and visiting home from Saudi Arabia, saw her picture he was smitten and determined to marry her. Both Nila and her mother agreed that she was not old enough to marry and immediately refused the proposal offered, but through other family members Jilhuq convinced Nila’s father. Nila kept refusing even though her parents did not give weight to her wishes. Nila’s mother had said that Jilhuq had always held a grudge over the refusal. Eventually she was forced into marrying Jilhuq who left almost immediately for Saudi Arabia. They had often argued about Nila’s refusal to go abroad before he had left. Even though he kept in touch over the phone with Nila, their relationship never improved and she had never wanted to go abroad or stay at her in-laws home. She had remained for 3 months at her home when one day saying that he would only take her for a few days, her father-in-law came and took her to her in-laws home. Nila was not allowed to come back home after that and after 10 days her husband returned from abroad. They kept trying to force her to go abroad to which neither she nor her parents agreed. Nila’s father called Jilhuq and told him that he would come to take his daughter home the next morning. On the same day in the depth of the night, 18th February 2008, Jilhuq threw acid and burnt Nila.Looking around Nila’s room now you immediately know that she is a studious girl. A large study table that is piled with Business and Management books dominates the room. She is doing her Bachelor of Business Honours in Finance and is currently in her second year of studies. The Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) field team went and visited her at her home in Sirajganj and also met her again at the Manab Mukti Shangstha (MMS) where regular community clinics are held for survivors. MMS is an affiliate organization of ASF that assists acid victims and survivors and provides a contact point to bring victims to ASF’s Jibon Tara Clinic in Dhaka city for treatment. Nila addresses the crowd and introduces herself, everyone already knows her though because she has become a focal representative for survivors in Sirajganj. Nila has been working for over 3 years with SHARP another NGO that along with ACTION AID organizes counselling meetings and other forms of support for survivors. This has allowed Nila to stay in touch with her community and fellow survivors and grName: Popy Rani DasAge: 22Occupation: None, currently resides in ASF Hospital.Attack date: 07/09/2009Reason: DowryRelation with the perpetrator: HusbandLegal condition of the case: Case is activeHer story by ASFPopy lived with her mother and grandmother in a rented house in Kamalpur, Kishoreganj. Her father passed away, so she and her mother had to work to earn a living. When she was 21 years old, Popy married her husband Prodeep with her own will, after having a relationship with him. Before getting married, Prodeep told Popy that he didn’t need any dowry, he just wanted Popy. But right after the marriage took place, Prodeep demanded a dowry from Popy’s family.Popy and her mother were both working at a private hospital. They were saving up their hard earned money for the future. When Prodeep demanded the dowry, they used their life savings to pay the dowry, which was a total of Tk 2,00,000. But this did not satisfy Prodeep. Popy’s mother told Prodeep to reconsider, because he had seen with his own eyes that this was the total amount available in their bank balance and the whole amount had been paid to Prodeep.Prodeep’s greed was still present after draining Popy’s family’s life savings. He then demanded more money as well as 60 grams of gold, which together was an impossible sum of money for Popy or her mother to manage. Popy told her husband that there was no way she could manage such a large amount of money.This was when the violence started. Prodeep became extremely angry at Popy, and beat her on a regular basis. Then Prodeep told Popy that if he married someone else, he would be able to get more money than she could give him. Seeing Popy as an obstacle to marrying another woman, Prodeep decided to take matters into his own hands. One night when Popy was suffering from fever, she asked Prodeep for a glass of water. Instead of handing her water, he handed her a glass full of acid. Unaware because acid is a clear liquid that looks just like water, Popy drank the acid. This caused severe damage in the inside of Popy’s mouth and her throat. Prodeep, thinking that this was enough to kill his wife, immediately fled after Popy drank the acid.However, Popy was too strong to be killed by a sip of acid. The incident occurred in September 2009, after which Popy was taken to a local hospital in Kishoreganj. Popy’s cousin brought her to ASF in February 2010. She received medical treatment in ASF hospital. The nature of her injury meant that she had trouble ingesting food with her mouth and had to be fed with a pipe that directly went to her stomach.Popy and her mother spent almost two years at the ASF Hospital, so they lost their jobs and their house in the village. A case was filed in the local police station but there were no updates. When ASF contacted the police station, they could not provide any information on whether the case went to court or the whereabouts of the perpetrator.Popy was given Tk 30,000 as rehabilitation assistance in May 2011. Popy’s mother went back to Kishoreganj in November 2011 but Popy stayed back in ASF Hospital because she needed to be fed with a pipe.Popy got admitted to Open University in April 2012 and was provided with Education Support. Popy still resides in the ASF Hospital because of the continuous care she needs, especially with food intake. She has a very thin stature because of her inability to eat and enjoy food. Popy spends her time helping ASF staff and is also known for her talent in embroidery work.Name: Mokammala RitaAge: 43Occupation: Employee of ASFAttack Date: 16/04/1998Reason: Victimized as her sister (Runa Laila another survivor) rejected love proposalRelation with the perpetrator: NeighborWhat is the legal condition of the case: The perpetrator has been punished by the rules of Bangladeshi Law.Name: Shamim SheikhAge: 45Occupation: Employee of ASFAttack Date: 01/08/1984Reason: Revenge for engaging in extra marital affairRelation with the perpetrator: Husband of the woman who had extra marital affair with victimWhat is the legal condition of the case: Mutually resolved.Name: Monira BegumAge: 24Occupation: StudentAttack date: 05/03/1998Reason: Revenge for previous conflictRelation with the perpetrator: Father’s employerLegal condition of the case: The perpetrator has been punished by the rules of Bangladeshi law.Her story by ASFAt the age of 9 years old, Monira’s life had already been decided for her. Her parents made arrangements with the parents of Swapan Gazi, agreeing that Monira would marry Swapan when she turned 18 and could legally marry. Swapan lived in the same neighbourhood as Monira and soon began pressuring her family to move her over sooner. When Swapan stole Monira’s father’s rickshaw – he refused to give away his daughter to Swapan.That same night on 5th March 1998, Swapan threw a glass of acid on Monira’s face and changed her life forever. The left side of her face and the upper part of both her breasts were badly burnt by the corrosive acid. She was only in Class 3 when the incident occurred.The Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) arranged for Monira to travel to Spain for reconstructive surgery. On the day that Monira was scheduled to fly there was a transport strike, but her father pedalled his rickshaw nearly 30 km to Dhaka city so that his daughter could catch her flight. Monira came back from her surgery with renewed hope for her life. She has a bubbly and happy personality with no reservations about talking to people about her experiences. She worked with fellow survivor Peyara Begum in UNICEF’s “Helping Acid Survivors” project and acted as a peer counsellor for local survivors in Gazipur.Currently, Monira’s family is still in poverty and living in a poor area in Tongi, just outside of Dhaka city. But Monira is working hard to create a better future for herself, through connections and her qualifications from working with ASF. She is now training with a local NGO on Mother and Child care services. Monira has enrolled in Tongi Public College and has just completed the first year of her Bachelor’s degree in Arts. Monira is also very talented at embroidery and crafts and she hopes with the help of ASF she will be able to start making and selling her clothes on a larger scale. Monira knows that, though life has thrown many obstacles in her path, with the support of ASF she will always be able to persevere.Name: Monjurul Alam Mojnu
Occupation: Day laborerAttack date: 15/05/1985
Reason: Marital dispute
Relation with the perpetrator : Neighbor
What is the legal condition of the case: Running.Name: Ayesha AkterAge: 27Occupation: Employee of ASFAttack Date: 26/04/2000Reason: Rejection of marriage proposalRelation with the perpetrator: Distant grandfatherWhat is the legal condition of the case: Perpetrator has been punished by the rules of Bangladeshi lawName: Runa Laila
Occupation: Employee of ASFAttack date: 16/04/1998
Reason: Rejection of love affair
Relation with the perpetrator: NeighborWhat is the legal condition of the case: The perpetrator has been punished by the rules of Bangladeshi LawName: Shamol
Occupation: StudentAttack 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.Documentary teaserThanks for checking out this project -please share