Friday, February 11, 2011

Picture of Abuse and Dignity

Picture of Disfigured Afghan Woman Wins World Press Photo Award
A South African photographer's portrait of an Afghan woman whose husband sliced off her nose and ears in a case of Taliban-administered justice won the World Press Photo award for 2010 Friday, one of photojournalism's most coveted prizes.

Jodi Bieber's posed picture, which contrasts the woman's arresting beauty against the results of the violence done to her after she fled an abusive marriage, was published on the cover of Time magazine Aug. 1.

Jury members said the photo, though shocking, was chosen because it addresses violence against women with a dignified image.

The woman, 18-year-old Bibi Aisha, was rescued by the U.S. military and now lives in America.

The picture also gains part of its resonance from its similarity with the iconic 1984 National Geographic photograph of a beautiful young Afghan woman with a piercing gaze.

The publication of the picture provoked international debate over the ethics of publishing -- or not publishing -- such a disturbing image.

"It's a terrific picture, a different picture, a frightening picture," said Juror Vince Aletti, an American freelance critic. "It's so much about not just this particular woman, but the state of women in the world."

Bieber, the overall winner, also won first place in the portraits category for the same photo. She will receive a cash prize of euro10,000 in a ceremony later this year.

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