Photos for Millennium Development Goals for UN week Sept. 21-26 2014

Posted in corporate social responsibility, Documentary | Photography, Girls Education, Global Health, News, Non Profit, Recent Projects, Uncategorized, women's empowerment with tags , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2014 by tuschman


I was asked by FHI 360  in collaboration with Women Deliver, Girls’ Globe and Johnson & Johnson to contribute some of my photos from my upcoming book: Faces of Courage to present during this year’s UN General Assembly opening session the week of September 22-26 in New York. They are creating an online campaign centered around the Twitter hashtag #MDG456Live to draw attention to how the development community is addressing women’s and girls’ issues related to MDGs 4, 5 and 6 at the UN General Assembly. I am very proud to be part of this effort. Here are a set of bookmarks that will be distributed:

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Successful Kickstarter Campaign to Publish Faces of Courage:Intimate Portraits of Women on the Edge

Posted in Uncategorized on September 18, 2014 by tuschman

On July 30th, I concluded a successful Kickstarter Campaign to publish Faces of Courage: Intimate Portraits of Women on the Edge. I am extremely grateful and indebted to the over 500 backers who supported me in helping me disseminate over a decade of work on the lack of basic human rights of women and girls in the developing world and the efforts being made to empower them.

new cover

Here is link to Kickstarter campaign:

http://kck.st/1lspgq2

Link to WomenDeliver exhibit in Malaysia containing images from the book:

http://www.tuschmanphoto.com/womendeliver_exhibit

I received quite a bit of internet coverage during the campaign. Here is a compendium of some of the coverage:

Interviews:

http://photowings.org/mark-tuschman-faces-of-courage/

http://rfotofolio.org/2014/07/17/faces-of-courage-mark-tuschman/

Review of Kickstarter campaign:

http://www.writeca.com/2014/07/16/photography-project-kickstarter/

Sample photo essays:

http://maptia.com/marktuschman/stories/lessons-from-a-single-book

 http://maptia.com/marktuschman/stories/faces-of-courage

News articles:

 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/22/the-forgotten-girls-shari_n_5609121.html

http://www.mercurynews.com/peninsula/ci_26198138/menlo-park-photographer-documents-lives-worlds-abused-and

Novartis Malaria Initiative

Posted in Africa, corporate social responsibility, Documentary | Photography, Global Health, Kenya, Malaria, Recent Projects with tags , , , , , , on October 10, 2013 by tuschman

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Malaria is one of the great scourges of mankind.

In 2011 and 2012, I traveled the world in cooperation with Novartis to document the impact that malaria has on people — and to show that,with the right combination of know how, technology, resources, and collaboration, malaria can be beaten.

Through my photographs I witnessed the amazing story of the Novartis Malaria Initiative.

This massive program has delivered 600 million antimalarial treatments to adults and children in malari-infested regions across three continents

The following link will take you on a remarkable journey, from the creation of the antimalarial active ingredients in China,
to the treatment of malaria patients in Africa and Asia.

http://www.malaria.novartis.com/malaria-initiative/onlinebook/index.shtml

I hope you enjoy traveling with me on this journey.

Domestic Violence in India Part 3

Posted in Documentary | Photography, India, Recent Projects, Uncategorized, violence against women on May 21, 2013 by tuschman

RANI

Rani had the misfortune to marry Mukesh, who turned out to be an alcoholic. He has beaten her many times, going so far as to slash her arm deeply with a blade. She was the sole earner in the family and in order to escape the misery of living with her husband, she demanded a divorce.

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Her mother in-law, incensed at Rani’s decision, kept threatening physical harm and Rani, under great stress, attempted suicide by gulping massive amounts of sleeping pills. She was found, taken to a hospital, where her life was saved. This incident was registered as a criminal case and she was asked not to give any testimony against her mother in-law. She agreed and decided to leave the past behind and live with her husband and her in-laws peacefully. Of course, this rarely works out and this was no exception.

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Rani and Mukesh tried having another child unsuccessfully. Rani became the victim of constant sarcasm and verbal abuse. He insisted that she have tests to see if she was still fertile—they had two children previously – but all the results were normal. With great prodding, Mukesh agreed to be tested and he indeed suffered from a very low sperm count. After finding out, Mukesh got more aggressive and began battering Rani daily. He completely denied his infertility problem and dared Rani to prove her fertility by marrying someone else and get pregnant. Helpless, she again attempted suicide but was fortunately saved one more time at the hospital.

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Afterwards, she approached the Mahila Panayat ( womens support group) and she was advised to get a divorce and get financial support for her two children, a process which she has started. She is also taking a course become a beautician. She is still tormented by her past experiences.

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UGATI

For eleven years, Ugati has been physically abused by her husband. He is a butcher and if Ugati happens to visit him at his shop, he greets her by a beating and even attempted to choke her to death.

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Ugati then decided to leave her husband for a year with both their daughters and move into her parents home, hopefully teaching her husband a lesson. After returning home, he became even more aggressive and “ he beat me naked so I could not escape”. Her husband even spit into her food and cut her hand with a blade.

During her visit to the women’s support group ( Mahila Panchayat), she felt that her life “ was ruined. I feel pain all over my body’”. She said that she firmly wants a divorce and have her husband pay for the expenses of her children. Fortunately, she has a supportive mother.

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Ugati’s mother is very concerned about the welfare of her daughter.

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Ugati and her mother

VANDANA

During the course of her marriage there has been not even a single day that her husband has not physically assaulted her.

 

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When Vandana married at age 26 she imagined a life full of love and happiness but it was not to be; the brutality of her husband her in-laws hit her very hard. Since the very first day of her marriage, her husband doubted her loyalty and treated her cruelly. He claimed that the marriage was arranged by his aunt, who despised him.

To add further abuse, her mother in-law referred to her as a retard, claimed she was lazy even though she did all the household chores and even deprived Vandana of basic necessities like food and clothing. Combined with the daily doses of emotional and verbal abuse, her mental state deteriorated badly. Living with overwhelming amount of stress and depression, she had fantasies of trying to reconcile with her husband but the women’s support group encouraged her to proceed with a divorce.

Domestic Violence in India Part 2

Posted in Documentary | Photography, India, violence against women on May 7, 2013 by tuschman

Meera

 A neighbor noticed a emotionally distraught Meera sobbing outside her urban slum home and immediately called HUMSAFAR. Meera told the caseworkers a harrowing story: her mother was a sex worker who practiced secretly, her brother was a petty thief and they were physically and mentally torturing her, pressuring her to follow her mother’s line of work and join the sex trade. On her refusal she was brutally beaten.

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She had even approached the local police, hoping they would talk some sense into her mother. The police had summoned Meera’s mother, warned her and asked her to take Meera back. When her mother persisted in her ways Meera telephoned the police station. To her great dismay,  the policeman bluntly told her that her mother was right and she should obey her. The policeman even offered to become her loyal client! Shocked and depressed by the police response, Meera  did not submit to her mother and brother’s proposal. After another thrashing, she overheard her mother telling her brother to “bump her off”. After this Meera ran away at the first opportunity and arrived at the house of neighborhood watch committee member to beg for help.

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Meera, doing her homework, is now back at school.

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Meera, shown here with her aunt, is very appreciative of their efforts in providing her a safe home environment.

HUMSAFAR did some intense counseling with Meera and restored her self-confidence. They arranged for Meera to live with her maternal aunt and uncle, and she is now back at school and earning some income from household work. Her uncle clearly told her mother to respect Meera’s wishes.

Geeta

Anil’s sister in-law (his elder brother’s wife) acted as a matchmaker for Anil and Geeta. They were married in 1995. The marriage was a ruse to perpetuate the affair between Anil and his sister in-law.

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Anil and her sister in-law started beating Geeta a few months after marriage; he told Geeta that he was not interested in any sexual relationship with her as she was not a beautiful, good looking wife . Of course, he was having his relationship with his sister in-law and gave her all the money that he earned, leaving Geeta fairly penniless. She was only able to survive by doing some sporadic household work. She is living on her own, living on only $1 per day.

Roopa

After being thrashed and abandoned by her husband, Roopa now lives as a squatter in a temporary tent in a vacant plot in a slum in Lucknow.

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Roopa contacted Humsfar in April 2009. She had been married off to Rakesh in 2000; the dowry was 80,000 rupees ( about $400). But dowry blackmail continued; her in-laws were now demanding more cash and a motorcycle for their son.

After 4 months of marriage she was sent back to her own family but received no support from them. Upon returning to her husband’s home, Roopa found that he had got a position as a bureaucrat in a government office. His new found status worsened the situation for Roopa; Rakesh resorted to physical violence without any provocation complaining that her family had not given him adequate dowry as he deemed himself to be a highly respected government employee.

Roopa suffered in silence, hoping matters would improve. But matters deteriorated from bad to worse as now her husband and in laws regularly indulged in physical violence and one day threw her out of the house.

A harassed Roopa approached the Mahila Thana ( a police station predominantly staffed by women) in November 2005. They summoned both the parties, worked out a compromise and Roopa returned to her marital home. For sometime things worked but then Rakesh returned to his old ways. In April 2006 when Roopa was five months pregnant Rakesh mercilessly thrashed her and threw her out of the house.

Roopa gave birth to a baby boy at her parent’s home. Her husband abandoned her and her own family hardly supported her. She lives in a makeshift jhuggi (a temporary tent in slum) put up by her in a vacant plot and supports herself by working as a domestic servant in various households. She seems to be suffering from post- traumatic stress disorder and is still under the illusion that her husband would return to her and they could have a happy marriage.

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Smita

After 6 months of marriage her in-laws started harassing her. After delivering her first child , a female, the harassment worsened; her father in-law started to sexually abuse her, while her husband, who turned out to be an alcoholic, decided to live separately.

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Smita, living under a great deal of stress, turned to a HUMSAFAR neighborhood watch committee who convinced her husband to move back home. After Smita delivered their second child, another female, her husband alcoholism had gotten out of hand and he committed suicide. Smita was shocked. Her father in-law, claiming that Smita was responsible for his son’s death, threatened her. He wanted Smita to become his second wife. When Smita refused, he registered a false report to the police and now they were harassing her as well. Smita, living under unbearable stress, turned to HUMSAFAR once more and they got both the police and her father in-law to stop the abuse.

At present she is living peacefully with her daughters at rented house and working as cleaner in a hospital. Her daughters are studying in school, supported by donations from HUMSAFAR’s educational fund.

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Soni

 Neighbors witnessed the beating of Soni by her husband but were unable to stop him. They informed the local police but they did not respond.

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Soni’s condition was critical and the neighbors called HUMSAFAR who in turn , called the police and accompanied them to the site of the crime. Soni needed medical attention but the police were non responsive, placing the responsibility on the case-workers for not having the appropriate medications. After a lot of heated discussion, HUMSAFAR got the police to take Soni to a hospital where she was treated.

HUMSAFAR filed a criminal case against Soni’s husband and convinced him to allow Soni to work as a domestic worker, preparing food and taking care of children. HUMSAFAR was in constant contact with her husband and he eventually changed his ways and started helping other women. He died in 2008 and Soni now lives peacefully with her eldest daughter and her family.

Somlata

In March 2007, Somalata’s husband had beaten her badly and sent her away to her parents home without her children. She went to a police station to report her case of domestic violence and was ignored. She then turned to HUMSAFAR who registered her case in court and made sure her husband gave her equal rights to her home.

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Her husband is now providing her money for household maintenance and her children are enrolled in school. With the support of HUMSAFAR, Somlata has learned to stand up to Rajneesh and he knows he is being monitored. Now Somlata refers cases of domestic violence to HUMSAFAR.

 

 

Domestic Violence in India- Part 1

Posted in Documentary | Photography, India, violence against women on April 30, 2013 by tuschman

In December of 2012 the brutal gang rape and murder of a young college student by six young men in Delhi, India made international headlines. In January of 2012 I had traveled to Delhi to document cases of dowry abuse. As I followed the news and read more about the extent of the physical abuse of women in India, I learned that it was so pervasive, that it was as common as eating a meal. With large demonstrations of men and women protesting to stop the rapes that occur all too often in India (in Delhi, it is estimated that four rapes occur every day), I was motivated to go back and report on other women who have been abused. Although this one case in Delhi received worldwide attention, I knew there were millions of women whose have suffered in silence for many years without their story being told. I hoped by doing this documentary work  momentum would be added to the efforts being made to curb physical violence against women.

Sometime in the middle of the night, unable to sleep, I am haunted by the images and stories of the physically abused women that I have photographed in India. Although my impressions and comments here are about the subjects I photographed there, the problem of physical and sexual abuse of women is pervasive throughout the world. In Mexico, when I attempted to do similar documentary work, I had no success. Women were too ashamed, perhaps because of stigma, to tell their stories even though physical abuse was extremely common.

It takes tremendous courage for these women to risk speaking out, to tell their stories and to be photographed.

It was difficult to hear the narratives of these women, imagining the beatings, physical abuse, the desperation and the suffering they survived, often in silence. With little societal help, the NGO’s offered life-lines to support these women through free legal counsel, support groups and counselors to give them the psychological strength to reaffirm their basic human rights and self-worth. It is life-saving work, yet the psychological and physical damage from trauma can never be entirely undone.

There were certain basic themes that came out of these stories, the foremost being lack of law enforcement.  A woman who has the courage to report her case to the police, risks ridicule or even further harassment. There was a story of a young woman, who I did not have the opportunity to photograph, who after having been raped, went to the police, where a police officer sexually abused her. And, some of the stories, which were the most difficult for the NGO’s to resolve, involve women who have been abused by their husbands who were members of the police force. And if cases do get filed in the judicial system, they languish in limbo for years and years as if time or justice were of no importance.

Unfortunately, sometimes women are also complicit in perpetrating violence towards other women.  Many of these stories have mother in-laws either condoning or actively participating in the violence. Another sad theme that pervades these testimonials is that so many  women, who have been brutally victimized time and time again by their husbands, still hope for a reconciliation and live with fantasies that everything would be fine if they could only move back one more time. Without the peer support of the womens groups in these NGO’s, I fear many of these women would no longer be alive to tell their stories.

When I think of women, not only in India, but throughout the world, who
are vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse daily, I cannot help but think their condition is a contemporary form of slavery. They live in fear, shame and isolation and have no legal recourse to defend their basic human rights. I find it intolerable and applaud all the efforts of the NGO¹s in India, in particular Action India and HUMSAFAR and the Global Fund for Women, that
provide grants that enable their work. These organizations provide vital psychological and legal support. They are doing difficult, commendable work, often going against accepted cultural norms, and I am grateful that they allowed me to document the stories of some of the women they have helped. Just as there was a moral imperative to end slavery, it is now critical to create an enforceable legal framework where physical abuse of women is totally unacceptable.

SANGEETA

Sangeeta, wandering the streets in a state of shock, had been badly beaten up by her husband. To make matters worse, her husband was a constable at the police headquarters which gave Sangeeta little recourse to deal with her husband’s abuse.

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She complained that he frequently beat her black and blue and threw her out of the house and dared her to do any harm to him. I have heard many stories that when women go to the police to report cases of abuse and rape, they are ignored or even open themselves to further abuse; as Sangeeta’s husband was a police officer she had no hope of ending her torment. She had no way to support herself and had to survive on the meager amounts of food  sent by her parents from their family farm.

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Sangeeta with some of her children. Some live with their father.

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Sangeeta with her youngest walking home. She lives in one of the slums in Lucknow.

Sangeeta’s case was brought to the attention of HUMSAFAR, an NGO working in Lucknow India, that deals exclusively with cases of domestic physical abuse. Their caseworkers had intensive counseling sessions with both Sangeeta and her husband. It did not work; after a brief respite, the physical and mental torture continued, and her husband’s use of abusive language and violence became worse.

Sangeeta’s husband finally requested a divorce; he threatened their children with violence if they dared to appear as witnesses in support of their mother. Legal cases take years and years to appear before a justice, and women have to wait  interminably in limbo for any justice. In Sangeeta’s case, things were further complicated by the fact that the police wanted to protect one of their own rather than his wife who was the real victim.

Nevertheless, HUMSAFAR’s intervention enabled Sangeeta’s  husband to be transferred out of the city. Free legal aid and counseling was given to Sangeeta. She now has her own bank account and is able to live in her home with her children; she receives a monthly stipend of 300 rupees each for her 5 children ( a total of $30 per month), hardly a sustainable living wage. Sangeeta had to send one son to her husband, and attempting to improve her  economic condition; at least, she can live without the fear of being beaten and tormented but her psychological scars are very much with her.

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Sangeeta, doing some of her daily chores, can now live without fear from the abusive behavior of her husband.

NAHIDA

On the very next day after Nahida was married, she found out that her husband was having an affair with his aunt. When she inquired about the affair, the beating started. Her first pregnancy ended in a still birth which she believes was caused by the abusive behavior of her husband.

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Nahida was forced to undergo four abortions by her husband as he was having an extra-marital affair and did not want to have children with Nahida. Eventually, she did have several children  but his violent behavior continued.

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Nahida with her youngest son.

Although she filed two separate cases for financial support from her husband, the first one in 2005, she is still waiting for any semblance of justice. Under section 125 of the code of Criminal Procedure, Nahida received a maintenance order of 1000 rupees per month by the family court. Even today, in 2013, she has never received a single rupee from her husband, as he refuses to appear in court reducing the maintenance order to a useless piece of paper. She filed another in 2007 under another law, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence, with the same lack of results. In this case, she never even got an order from the court as her husband refused to appear.

HUMSAFAR is still trying to help Nahida receive justice through the court system, a daunting task. Meanwhile, Humsafar has facilitated her training as a professional cab driver where she can earn some minimal amount to pay for necessities and keep two of her children in school.

SUDHA

Sudha married out of her caste. She fell in love and was married to Mahesh in 2001, to the great disapproval of his parents. Her father-in law, a head constable of a police department in Lucknow, came to their home when Sudha was five months pregnant and beat both of them, threatening  he would go so far as to kill them both unless the marriage was annulled.

After registering a formal complaint against her father-in-law, he became more incensed, increasing the harassment and attempted to rape her.

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Another women’s organization helped protect Sudha by arranging for her to move into a women’s shelter in another district. After her son was born, Sudha hoped for a reconciliation and moved back with her husband, but her father in-law was not placated and continued his violent behavior. Sudha’s husband also started harassing her and finally abandoned her. Again she had to move back to a shelter.

Humsafar had to fight a long and difficult battle to get a case registered against Sudha’s husband and father in-law.  Unfortunately, the courts in India work on geologic time and the case against her father in-law is lost in a vast ineffective maze of beauracracy. Her son is now 9 years old and she receives 400 rupees a month ($8 per month). Sudha works with HUMSAFAR now to help empower women and make them aware of their basic human rights so as not to be victims of daily abuse and violence.

MANJARI

Manjari was a child bride; at the age of 14, she was married to Ramesh, a man 11 years her senior. Her harassment started after 3 years of marriage when she could not have a child.

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Manjari was sent to her family home by her in-laws, but after some family mediation, she returned a year later to attempt once more to live with her husband. Manjari had 3 still birth deliveries and all the midwives that attended to her births felt is was due to her husband having forceful, violent sex with her during her last trimester. She was told not to allow her husband to do this. The next time Manjari became pregnant, she returned early to her family home where she successfully delivered a male baby. Whenever she became pregnant, she  returned to her parent’s home,  and had 2 additional babies. Having children did not change her husband’s violent behavior towards her. During sex, her husband beat her and bit here in many parts of her body including her breast, genitals, and thighs. Whenever she complained about this to her mother and mother-in-law they used to say that he is your husband and he can do anything with you that he wishes.

She approached HUMSAFAR and showed them her  wounds. She did not want to register her case with the police but HUMSAFAR intervened and counseled her husband that his behavior was criminal. At present Manjari is living peacefully, her husband no longer sexually assaults her, but she suffers from pain in her thighs and legs.

 

RACHNA

 Rachna, after being beaten by her husband and father in-law, was forced to abandon her baby.

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Neha, Rachna’s younger sister, was married and unable to have any children. Neha convinced Rachna to marry Vikram, the brother of her husband. Rachna became pregnant but had a difficult pregnancy and even though her in-laws refused to provider her with any pre-natal care,  she did manage to have her baby in a government hospital. She became critically ill after the birth and was unconscious for the next 48 hours.  When Rachna  finally returned home and tried to be with her baby, Neha claimed the baby as her own; Rachna’s husband even told her that it wasn’t her baby- it was Neha’s child. Her father in-law attempted to throw her from the balcony and after fighting him off, she was locked in a room and beaten for five days. She was forced to leave her baby and go live with her parents. HUMSAFAR is helping her file a case for custody of her child. HUMSAFAR has also facilitated her training as a professional to polish furniture and Rachna is currently working in a furniture factory in Lucknow.

Empowering Tribal Women in Gujarat India

Posted in Gujarat, India, women's empowerment on December 12, 2012 by tuschman

Read this article on my new blog.

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