November 2017

  • Our Children's Future
    Image from Yemen, by Giles Clarke - photographed for UN/OCHA in May 2017

    A student at the Aal Okab school in Saada City, Yemen stands in the ruins of one of his former classrooms, destroyed in June 2015 during the Yemeni Civil War. Students attend lessons in tents provided by UNICEF nearby. According to UNICEF, nearly twenty-seven per cent of school-age children are out of school, with nearly 1,700 schools unfit for use due to conflict-related damage.

    After almost three years of civil war between two factions claiming to constitute the Yemeni government, Yemen faces a humanitarian crisis in 2017, with an alarming 19.5 million people - almost two thirds of the population – in need of emergency humanitarian assistance or protection, according to the United Nations. Since mid-2015, when Houthi rebel forces took over the capital city of Sana'a, at least three million people have fled their homes from regions now embroiled in a prolonged ground war. Over 11,000 civilian deaths and more than 50,000 injuries have been recorded in the multi-sided civil war.

    Making a dire situation worse, a devastating cholera epidemic swept the country beginning in May 2017. The World Health Organization estimates that over one million men, women, and children will have been infected in Yemen by the end of 2017 with some 2,300 deaths recorded to date.

    In October 2017, the UN placed the Saudi Arabian-led military coalition, which supports the former Yemeni government, on a list of parties that commit grave violations affecting children in situations of armed conflict. They found that the coalition killed or wounded 683 children and damaged or destroyed 38 schools and hospitals. In November 2017, the Saudi coalition began enforcing a total blockade in Yemen, preventing delivery of humanitarian aid and placing millions at risk of famine.

    Giles Clarke is a photojournalist with Getty Images Reportage based in New York City.  

  • Unjust Exodus
    Image from Bangladesh, by K M Asad

    After three days of hard walking, a starving elderly Rohingya refugee woman takes a drink after entering the border area between Myanmar and Bangladesh. She, along with other Rohingya refugees, fled from Myanmar’s Rakhine state on 25 August 2017. Since then, over 1,000,000 Rohingya have been forced from their homes by the Myanmar Army and police, who are violently cracking down on Rohingya, a stateless ethnic Muslim minority, within the country. More than 536,000 Rohingya are now refugees, having fled Myanmar to neighbouring states, primarily Bangladesh. Myanmar’s government, which does not recognize the Rohingya as citizens or as one of the country’s 135 ethnic groups, has been accused by the United Nations of significant human rights violations against the Rohingya, including mass killings, gang rapes, infanticide and forced deportation. The Myanmar government dismisses these accusations as “exaggerations.” The international community has widely condemned Myanmar’s leader, Nobel Laureate Aung Sang Suu Kyi, for her complicity and lack of action to stop the persecution of the Rohingya people.

    K M Asad is a freelance photographer based in Bangladesh. He travels to remote places to capture people in the most abject conditions in hopes that his photography can make life better for others.

  • Badge of Honor
    Image from the United States, by Mary F. Calvert

    U.S. Navy sailor Melissa Bania holds a banner inscribed with the story of her rape by a fellow sailor before hanging it on the footbridge across from Naval Base San Diego. Military sexual trauma survivors gathered in April 2016 in San Diego to bring attention to the epidemic of rape in America’s military.

    According to the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) 2016 Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, an estimated 14,900 service members (8,600 women and 6,300 men) were sexually assaulted in 2016. U.S. non-governmental organizations, such as Protect Our Defenders, claim that because most victims were assaulted more than once, this number is far higher. Rather than receive a badge of honor for speaking out, many sexual assault victims who report the crime to their superiors fear retaliation, demotion, or expulsion from the military.  The same report found that fifty-eight per cent of those who reported their sexual assault said they faced retaliation of some kind and a third of those reporting were discharged from the military, typically within 7 months of reporting.

    Mary F. Calvert is a photojournalist based in the United States and a 2017 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow in Photography. She is committed to using photography to affect meaningful social change and is known for producing work on under-reported and neglected gender-based human rights issues.

  • Whose Confession?
    Image from Poland, by Alfonso De Gregorio

    This photograph captures the stolen innocence of children at the hands of sex offenders within the Roman Catholic Church. Sexual abuse of children has been reported in the Catholic Church for decades, with allegations against thousands of religious leaders, predominantly priests. The number of victims coming forward has sharply increased since 2010. While investigators have documented tens of thousands of cases in 26 countries, researchers conclude that many victims, especially in Asia and Africa, have yet to come forward.

    The victims include both boys and girls, with the majority reported to be between the ages of 11 and 14, according to a research study produced for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.  A comprehensive Australian study by former priests found that one in 15 Catholic priests worldwide had sexually abused children.  The Catholic Church engaged in a widespread cover-up of the abuse, with popes and bishops fostering a culture of secrecy that has resulted in gross failures in transparency, accountability, and trust.  In 2014, however, Pope Francis established a Vatican commission to root out sexual abuse of children in parishes and prevent future abuse. The Church has removed 800 priests from their positions and sentenced over 2500 to a lifetime of penance or other lesser sanction. Despite this, few of the Church's child sex offenders have been prosecuted for their crimes.

    Alfonso De Gregorio is an Italian documentary photographer based in the United Arab Emirates. He believes that photography can spotlight social, cultural, and environmental realities and, in doing so, provide a powerful and political commentary about the world we live in. 

  • Tiny Caskets
    Image from Peru, by Alejandro Olazo

    In July 1991, during a military operation to suppress “terrorists” in the Santa Barbara campesino community in Huancavelica, Peru, the Peruvian Army patrol “Escorpio” kidnapped seven children all under age seven, five women and three men. The Army accused the group of having relatives likely to become terrorists for Peruvian communist rebel group Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) and took the group to the nearby Misteriosa mine, where they tortured and killed all fifteen. Attempting to cover up their crimes, the officers used dynamite to explode the victims’ bodies and collapse the mine entrance.

    The Army charged the officers with aggravated murder and tried them in military courts. Only one witness testified at trial, however, due to witness harassment by government security forces and the officers were acquitted.  Subsequent criminal proceedings against the officers in regular courts were initiated but then dismissed due to amnesty laws.

    In July 2011, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued a report on the case, finding that the Army officers’ acts and application of the amnesty laws violated the victims’ right to life, right to a family, and right to fair trial. In 2013, the Commission referred the case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights as Peru failed to remedy these violations. In 2015, the Court ordered the victims’ remains to be returned to their families. This photograph depicts the 2017 funeral procession of the victims’ remains being brought at last, 26 years after the killings, to Huancavelica’s General Cemetery to be buried. 

    Alejandro Olazo is a photojournalist from Lima, Peru and is a photographer for Caretas, a Peruvian political magazine. He aims to document some of Peru’s most iconic human rights cases.

  • "It Could Be Me or You"
    Image from Ghana, by Camilla Kidd

    Children participate in a community sensitization march through Senya Bereku, Ghana, as part of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on 30 July 2017. Local school children, aware that child trafficking is prevalent in their community, carry signs with messages such as “LET ME ENJOY MY CHILDHOOD”, “COULD YOU SELL YOUR CHILD?” and “IT COULD BE ME OR YOU”. Thousands of people from the community joined in the rally to raise awareness of human trafficking and slavery in Ghana. Though precise estimates vary, thousands of children, some as young as 4, are reported to be working in the fishing industry on Ghana’s Lake Volta, many in hazardous, life-threatening conditions. According to NGO reports, more than half of these child labourers are human trafficking victims who are being forced to work. Despite this knowledge, in 2016 Ghana reported only seven human trafficking-related convictions, some with mere fines, such as the trafficker fined 720 cedis ($170 USD), less than an average weekly salary, for forcing a 15 year-old boy to work without pay on a fishing boat in Lake Volta.

    Camilla Kidd is a 25 year-old from the UK, a History Graduate and a lover of photography and travel. She loves taking photographs of people living life passionately, with a strong focus on education and human rights.