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we tell stories


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we tell stories


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Yes, We Cann !


 © Pietro Chelli/Riverboom

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Yes, We Cann !


 © Pietro Chelli/Riverboom

The industry has been estimated at $ 47 billion per year revenues, much more than all other crops combined: it is certain that cannabis can not only heal illnesses, it can heal the american deficit.

Four decades have gone by since Richard Nixon declared his famous "war on drugs”, a war which is now globally, and by any standard, considered one of the biggest human and political failures of modern society. Over 1 trillion U.S. dollars has been spent to eradicate drugs from our societies, with no positive results. In many parts of the world, such as Mexico, drug violence has become endemic. Gangs are doing roaring deals and are driving unimaginable profits for organized crime worldwide, while nations' joint efforts at reducing the demand have been completely fruitless.

It is no wonder that countries around the world are rethinking their approach to drugs, with former ministers and politicians admitting the mistakes of the past and pushing for change, starting from cannabis. The legalization of cannabis has been asked by people all over the globe for at least 20 years now, but the undergoing, slow process of social acceptance is only the result of a recent recognition of its medical properties. As politicians around the globe begin to understand that this might be the entry point that enables them to change the figures in which they have failed, major shifts are already occurring in the United States, where five states have recently voted to tax and regulate cannabis consumption.

Underneath these shifts however, lies an even greater revolution: a tenaciously united and like-minded group of women are leading the way in transforming a market which was once governed solely by criminals and dominated by illegality and corruption, into one of the greatest opportunities of change, medical progress, and economical growth of the coming century.

Being nurturing mothers and household caregivers before they are entrepreneurs, these businesswomen have foreseen the historic opportunity to forge the upcoming cannabis market into an industry in which reasons of profit are better balanced with compassion, moral responsibility and a general desire of good doing for the society they live in, and these are their stories…

click to view the complete set of images in the archive 

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Weapon Show


© Guillaume Herbaut

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Weapon Show


© Guillaume Herbaut

Just as lingerie or cars, tanks and missiles have their own shows. From Paris to Delhi, these events, known war shows, are little known to the general public but draw in great numbers of professionals from the defence industry. Travelling to Jordan, France, Qatar and India, Herbaut's 'Weapon Show' looks at the industry of war market's and war shows around the globe. 

War shows, where foreign militaries and the accredited public mix to admire and purchase weapons such as missiles, tanks, drones, riot equipment and solid gold pistols, and in the aisles one not only can meet weapon experts and soldiers doing their shopping but also numerous spies. The glamorous appearance of the market stalls, one could mistake them for video games shops, seem to make the fact that these tradesmen are dealing with weaponry nearly irrelevant. 

But one should not be misled by the war show's flashy appearance - the arms and weapons industry is a global business, and not a little one. In 2012 the five main weapons exporters were USA, Russia, China, Ukraine and the European Union. In the same year, the world military expenditure has been estimated at $1756 billion US Dollars, which represents 2.5 per cent of the global gross domestic product (GDP) or $ 249 US Dollars for each person in the world. 

Welcome to the death market where the main values are power, technology and money!

click the link to see the entire set of images in the archive

The weapons market never knows the economic crisis. The winners of a thriving financial sector is the United States in first place, followed by Russia and France. A big boom in parallel civil wars on the globe.
Each year several weapons fairs are organized. They sell fighter jets, tanks, missiles, assaults rifles etc.  Here the rules of marketing are the same as for civilian companies. Gadgets, brochures, promotional bags touting war products are available to visitors.

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Morbihan


© Guillaume Herbaut

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Morbihan


© Guillaume Herbaut

Islands in winter.

Brittany. France.

 

A short boat trip from Vannes or Quiberon and you find yourself in another world, the world of the Canard (the Duck) and the Caneton (Duckling). These are the nicknames of Houat and Hoëdic. Two-car seafaring islands facing the ocean, protected by a series of cliffs. The Iles au Moines, for its part, right at the heart of the Golfe du Morbihan, stands sentry over the Breton hinterland. Three little corners of paradise to delight the holiday-makers who come here in summer to recharge their batteries, away from the French mainland. The figures speak volumes: Hoaut has 3000 inhabitants in summer, just 230 in winter. The same is true of Hoëdic and the iles aux Moines, which see their populations increase by a factor of ten in the sunny days of July and august.

 

For the Festival la Gacilly, Guillaume Herbaut investigate these island treasures when the summer visitors had flown, when the colder days had come, storms had arrived to pound these fragile shores, and at last islanders were left to their own devices. A photographic essay showing the true face, the wild nature of these fragments of land. One belongs to an Island more than a country. Island life goes beyond nationality and forges character. Island-dwellers are not comfort-lovers. they exhibit a rebellious, often taciturn nature. For one's island , one would fight to the point of risking shipwreck. Winter is indeed the time to approach Houat or Hoëdic if you want to grasp the life of a place battered by the breakers, the daily existence of people dependent on the mainland for a shuttle service of boats to take the younger generation to secondary school or brining provisions. Living on an Island all the year round means submitting yourself to the climate, the winds, the currents. 

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

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Polyspam


© Cristina De Middel

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Polyspam


© Cristina De Middel

Any given Monday a fifty-year-old woman, who is about to enter the operating room for an open-heart surgery, decides to write me begging for help. She urgently needs someone to administer her huge fortune and share it out amongst different NGOs. A few hours later a young girl tries to persuade me to marry her in order to at last get the great inheritance her parents left her with the only condition of not being single at the age of 30. On Tuesday, an African attorney has chosen me to share the funds of a left over account he’s found and at the same time I’m informed that I just won the British Lottery and a brand new Toyota. All of them have been entering my INBOX for the last year, telling me incredible stories they describe with all the details I need to realize that their situation is definitely dramatic and that they truly need my help. By trying to awake both my mercy and my greed, they offer me the perfect business: cleaning my conscience and my financial situation at the same time.

Long ago, the Internet became a machine out of control that has mainly lost all his consistency and any medium-experienced internaut is aware of the scam hidden in these unique opportunities. We have come at the point in which these terrible stories told are not even worth the time it takes to read them and they are directly deleted in what could be considered a crime against humanity at a domestic level.

With this project I recover these stories and read them carefully, analyzing the scheme of the trap that is hidden in its structure and that offers a list of our complexes and sins as social beings. These stories are designed to make us feel chosen as one in a million: at last, lady luck knocking at our door after all this effort in vain.

Starting from this deliciously written lie, the series "Poly-Spam" aims to build the robotic portrait of the senders, taking every single detail specified and translating it into images with special care in the dramatic ambient of the specific moment in which the mail was sent. By using photography and its veracity load, I certify the existence of something to good to be true; I create impossible documents based on pure lies. I put a face behind the tale, but a contemporary one, a tale adapted to the dreams and frustrations of modern times.

Cristina De Middel

 

click to view the complete set of images and spam emails

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Exploring a Himalayan Glacier


© Simon Norfolk

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Exploring a Himalayan Glacier


© Simon Norfolk

A few of the 200,000 glaciers in the world are well studied but the 9,000 in India are mostly unexamined. This is remarkable considering the future of the high mountain climate is crucial to the three great rivers which are born here, the Ganges, Indus and Brahmaputra and the 700 million people who depend upon their waters. In the Chinese Himalayas, researchers have performed thorough surveys, but, according to one American scientist, “the other side is a black hole.” The reasons are largely financial: India is a relatively poor country. According to one researcher adequate funding levels need to be 30-40 times higher.

 

For this reason Chhota Shigri glacier has been chosen as one of the benchmark glaciers in the Indian Himalaya. The Glacier Research Group, Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi has been carrying out Mass Balance Studies in this Glacier since 2002. Chhota Shigri and the other glaciers of the eastern Himalayas are unusual in that, unlike the majority of the world’s glaciers, which get most of their snow from winter storms, they get much of theirs from the summer monsoons, which tend to insulate them from more rapid melting. (Most of the glaciers of the Karakoram Mountains, in Pakistan for example, are not receding at all; it’s one of the few places in the world where this is the case.) The weather in India has been fluctuating wildly; 2015 was the driest in decades and early 2016 broke records for high temperatures. Glaciers are uniquely sensitive recorders of changes in climate, and their ice contains indications of past temperature, precipitation, and volcanic activity, as well as the effects of greenhouse gases. The ice cores collected by the JNU scientists on Chhota Shigri make up an archive of the Earth’s weather over the past millennia. But the glacial ice is disappearing, and so is the archive itself. “We are trying to document the history of climate,” says one glaciologist. “If it’s not done now, it will never be done. We’re on a salvage mission.”

text: © DEXTER FILKINS

This story was commissioned by The New Yorker

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The Girls from Malawa


© Marie Hald/Moment

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The Girls from Malawa


© Marie Hald/Moment

While wars are going on all over the world, and countries fight each other with soldiers and weapons, a large group of especially young people are fighting a completely different war. A war against themselves.

In a world filled with perfectly photoshopped super models, the normality of plastic surgery and a vice of controlling your own destiny, it is hard to find your way as a teenager.

The boundaries are even harder to find, when you are possessed with the voice of “Ana”, as many anorexia patients call the illness.
Listening to the nurses and therapist seams wrong when the voice inside your head tells you you look fat, and that thinner is always better.

Eating disorders are not only about being thin, as many may think. Control is a key word. And in a teenager’s sometimes stressful life, what is easier to control than the intake of food?

Eating disorders are the third most common disease amongst teenagers, and worldwide one out of five suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia which eventually can lead to heart failure and malfunction of the internal organs, causing death.

In the small village Malawa in the south of Poland, a little yellow house is settled every year with struggling young boys and girls, getting treatment and trying to get well enough to at one point go back to a normal life.

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

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A History of Misogyny, chapter one: On Abortion


© Laia Abril

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A History of Misogyny, chapter one: On Abortion


© Laia Abril

Under “natural” circumstances, the average woman would get pregnant about 15 times in her life, resulting in ten births. Seven of those babies would survive childhood.

For centuries, people have searched for ways to delay or terminate pregnancy. Today, safe and efficient means of abortion finally exist, yet women around the world continue to use ancient, illegal or risky home methods: Every year, 47,000 women around the world die due to botched abortions.

Why do they take the risk?

Across countries and religions, millions of women are blocked from abortion technologies by law and social coercion, and are forced to carry pregnancies to term against their will. Some are minors and rape victims. For many, the pregnancy is not viable or poses a health risk. But all can be criminalized for trying to abort; in El Salvador, even women suffering a miscarriage are being charged with homicide, facing prison sentences of up to 40 years.”

In violation of patient confidentiality codes, doctors and healthcare providers have been known report women seeking illegal abortions, even when abortion is medically necessary to save the patient’s life. On the other hand, anyone who helps a woman abort in a country where abortion is illegal can find themselves incarcerated. And even in countries where abortion is legal, medical staff may risk their lives to perform the operation.

This year, for the first time in history, the Pope has allowed Catholic women who’ve aborted to be forgiven. But while this may seem like a step forward, it perpetuates the stigma of guilt that surrounds women’s choices. In the meantime, politicians exploit abortion as campaign currency; making reproductive issues a political matter, rather than a question of rights.

Laia Abril’s new long-term project A History of Misogyny is a visual research undertaken through historical and contemporary comparisons. In her first chapter On Abortion Abril documents and conceptualizes the dangers and damages caused by women’s lack of legal, safe and free access to abortion. Continuing with her painstaking research methodology, Abril draws on the past to highlight the long, continuous erosion of women’s reproductive rights to present-day. Her collection of visual, audio and textual evidence weaves a net of questions about ethics and morality, and reveals a staggering series of social triggers, stigmas, and taboos around abortion that have been invisible until now.

ON ABORTION & CONTRACEPTION HISTORY

On Illegal Stories: Poland

On June 27, 2015, the Women on Waves (WoW) Abortion drone made its maiden flight from Frankfurt an der Oder in Germany, to Słubice in Poland, carrying packages of abortion pills.

Abortion is legal in nearly all EU countries, except Poland, Ireland and Malta. The official number of abortions performed in Poland, a country with 38 million inhabitants, is only about 750 per year. According to Dutch pro-choice organization Women on Waves, the real number is closer to 240,000.

My doctor and I pretended we didn’t know each other, so other hospital staff wouldn’t get suspicious. The plan was to state that the fetus was dead, which would get me the curettage legally. My doctor winked when I was supposed to say “yes” or “no” to the procedure. It was absurd and humiliating at the same time.
— Magdalena, 32, Poland
All in all, the experience took almost 15 hours without incident. I called my (now ex-) boyfriend from the road, and he begged me to not do it. When I mentioned the stuffiness and throng, he answered me: “That seems right, murderers should be treated like cattle
— Marta, 29, Poland

Baby hatch, baby box, ruota dei trovatelli (foundling wheel) or okno zycia. These little windows can be opened from outside for mothers to deposit unwanted infants. After this, an alarm sounds to alert the nuns at the convent to take in the orphan. This system has existed in one form or another for centuries all over the world.

The United Nations is concerned at the baby box’s recent spread in Europe; in 2012, nearly 200 baby drop-off points were installed across the continent. More than 400 children have been left in European child abandonment centers since 2000.

ON ILLEGAL STORIES: Chile, Peru, Ireland

It happened when I was 24. I had been sexually assaulted, and I found out I was pregnant after just four or five weeks. At that time, abortion in Chile was illegal under any circumstance [even when the mother’s life was in risk]. Getting it done was a hell of a process; I was afraid the so-called doctors who did it would botch the job or kill me and cut me into pieces. But in the end, everything went well and I threw a party to celebrate with the people who helped me
— Lucía, Chile
In 2010, my wife Michelle and I found out we were pregnant. She was over the moon, although I was worried and realistic — she had been fighting cancer since 2001 and was terminal. Unfortunately, her chemotherapy treatment had probably damaged the fetus, before we even knew there was one. Michelle was also unlikely to survive a pregnancy. Her oncologist prescribed an abortion. Michelle did not want to, but we had no other option. To our surprise, Cork University Hospital refused to do it
— Neil, Ireland
Taking an scalding bath seems to be a widespread method that has persisted for generations. One Sanskrit text from the 8th century recommends squatting over a boiling pot of onions, a technique also used by Jewish women in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the early 1900s. As late as 1870, some abortionists would pull out patients’ teeth without aesthetic because the pain and shock was thought to induce miscarriage.

Taking an scalding bath seems to be a widespread method that has persisted for generations. One Sanskrit text from the 8th century recommends squatting over a boiling pot of onions, a technique also used by Jewish women in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the early 1900s.

As late as 1870, some abortionists would pull out patients’ teeth without aesthetic because the pain and shock was thought to induce miscarriage.

Desperate pregnant woman have been known to probe themselves with knitting needles, whalebone, turkey feathers, umbrella rods or the infamous coat hanger. These can cause infection, hemorrhage, sterility and death. Abortion rights advocates worldwide have long used the coat hanger as a symbol of the pro-choice movement, and this method is now seeing a resurgence in the United States, where abortion restrictions are increasingly narrow.

Desperate pregnant woman have been known to probe themselves with knitting needles, whalebone, turkey feathers, umbrella rods or the infamous coat hanger. These can cause infection, hemorrhage, sterility and death. Abortion rights advocates worldwide have long used the coat hanger as a symbol of the pro-choice movement, and this method is now seeing a resurgence in the United States, where abortion restrictions are increasingly narrow.

The infusion of these plants: Ruda and Chipilin are used by women to abort during the first trimester in El Salvador. There has been an endless list of oral drugs thought to abort a fetus, since before the time of Hippocrates. A few examples: Clover mixed with white wine, squirting cucumber, stinking iris, slippery elm, brewer’s yeast, melon, wild carrot, aloe, papaya, crushed ants, camel hair, lead, belladonna, quinine and pomegranate. Alternatively, self-starvation.

The infusion of these plants: Ruda and Chipilin are used by women to abort during the first trimester in El Salvador.

There has been an endless list of oral drugs thought to abort a fetus, since before the time of Hippocrates. A few examples: Clover mixed with white wine, squirting cucumber, stinking iris, slippery elm, brewer’s yeast, melon, wild carrot, aloe, papaya, crushed ants, camel hair, lead, belladonna, quinine and pomegranate.

Alternatively, self-starvation.

Was one of the other hundred “tricks” women invented to jeopardize her pregnancy when they did not    have easy access to abortion. Interesting enough is how, in one of the most common ways of abortion in Middle Ages — neonaticide; when women used to leave the newborns outside the house or thought them to the river. Unlike other European regions, the German mother had the right to expose them. 

Was one of the other hundred “tricks” women invented to jeopardize her pregnancy when they did not    have easy access to abortion. Interesting enough is how, in one of the most common ways of abortion in Middle Ages — neonaticide; when women used to leave the newborns outside the house or thought them to the river. Unlike other European regions, the German mother had the right to expose them. 

Advertising materials for clinics that “regulate” and “fix” menstrual delays in Peru.

Abortion in Peru is illegal, except in case of a threat to the life or health of the mother. However, since 2014, 277 women have died after being denied access to abortion. Women who self-abort can be sentenced to up to two years in prison. Anyone who performs an illegal abortion can be sentenced to one to six years.

Human incubator In November 27, 2014, an Irish woman in her 20s was admitted to hospital with headaches and nausea. Two days later, the mother of two suffered a fall and was later found unresponsive. On December 9th, she was declared clinically brain dead. She was 15 weeks pregnant at the time, and was placed on life support against her family’s wishes. In December 26, the Irish High Court ruled that the life support machine could be turned off after hearing that her fetus had little chance of surviving. Under the 1983 8th amendment of the Irish constitution, an unborn child has the same rights as its mother.

Human incubator

In November 27, 2014, an Irish woman in her 20s was admitted to hospital with headaches and nausea. Two days later, the mother of two suffered a fall and was later found unresponsive. On December 9th, she was declared clinically brain dead. She was 15 weeks pregnant at the time, and was placed on life support against her family’s wishes.

In December 26, the Irish High Court ruled that the life support machine could be turned off after hearing that her fetus had little chance of surviving. Under the 1983 8th amendment of the Irish constitution, an unborn child has the same rights as its mother.

Hippocratic betrayal On February 2015, a 19-year-old pregnant woman ingested abortive pills in São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil. She started feeling abdominal pains, so her aunt took her to hospital. After she was treated, her doctor called the police, saying he would autopsy the fetus if she did not confess to trying to abort. She was handcuffed to her hospital bed, and freed only after paying a 250€ bail. Denunciation by doctors is not uncommon in Brazil, Peru or El Salvador. They can be retained in hospitals for weeks or months. Many claim they are legally required to notify authorities when they suspect an abortion, in contradiction to professional codes of doctor-patient confidentiality.

Hippocratic betrayal

On February 2015, a 19-year-old pregnant woman ingested abortive pills in São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil. She started feeling abdominal pains, so her aunt took her to hospital. After she was treated, her doctor called the police, saying he would autopsy the fetus if she did not confess to trying to abort. She was handcuffed to her hospital bed, and freed only after paying a 250€ bail.

Denunciation by doctors is not uncommon in Brazil, Peru or El Salvador. They can be retained in hospitals for weeks or months. Many claim they are legally required to notify authorities when they suspect an abortion, in contradiction to professional codes of doctor-patient confidentiality.

Visual War Anti-abortion protesters [often including their children] have a long history of harassing women who try to access to abortion clinics. Their banners go from naïf child imaginary to dantesque, bizarre, graphic images of fetus and death children [often altering and manipulating origin and data of the pictures]. In countries as US, UK, Australia, Canada or South Africa governments draw a perimeter around the facilities, known variously as a “buffer zone”, “bubble zone”, or “access zone” intending to limit those who oppose abortion can approach. Pixelated images from pro-life sites where they compare the hand of a dead fetus mired in blood, to the tip of a pencil and the fetus body to a coin.

Visual War

Anti-abortion protesters [often including their children] have a long history of harassing women who try to access to abortion clinics. Their banners go from naïf child imaginary to dantesque, bizarre, graphic images of fetus and death children [often altering and manipulating origin and data of the pictures]. In countries as US, UK, Australia, Canada or South Africa governments draw a perimeter around the facilities, known variously as a “buffer zone”, “bubble zone”, or “access zone” intending to limit those who oppose abortion can approach.

Pixelated images from pro-life sites where they compare the hand of a dead fetus mired in blood, to the tip of a pencil and the fetus body to a coin.

The abortion saint Saint Gianna Beretta Molla (October 4, 1922 – April 28, 1962) was an Italian pediatrician who refused both an abortion and a hysterectomy when she was pregnant with her fourth child, despite knowing that continuing with the pregnancy would result in her own death. She was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2004 and is a patron saint for mothers, physicians, and unborn children. Abortion is legal in Italy up to 90 days of pregnancy, but in some hospitals, 100% of doctors are conscientious objectors, forcing women to travel abroad for a termination

The abortion saint

Saint Gianna Beretta Molla (October 4, 1922 – April 28, 1962) was an Italian pediatrician who refused both an abortion and a hysterectomy when she was pregnant with her fourth child, despite knowing that continuing with the pregnancy would result in her own death. She was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2004 and is a patron saint for mothers, physicians, and unborn children.

Abortion is legal in Italy up to 90 days of pregnancy, but in some hospitals, 100% of doctors are conscientious objectors, forcing women to travel abroad for a termination

“Pro-life” terrorism In 1993, American anti-abortion extremists like The Lambs of Christ and The Army of God began murdering doctors who provided abortions. The latest attack claimed a police officer and two civilians at a family-planning clinic in Colorado, last year. There have been at least 11 murders and 26 attempted murders due to anti-abortion violence in the US. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s “Ten Most Wanted” poster of anti-abortion extremist James Kopp. Convicted of killing Dr. Barnett Slepian at home in Amherst, New York, in October, 1998, Kopp received the maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison. 

“Pro-life” terrorism

In 1993, American anti-abortion extremists like The Lambs of Christ and The Army of God began murdering doctors who provided abortions. The latest attack claimed a police officer and two civilians at a family-planning clinic in Colorado, last year. There have been at least 11 murders and 26 attempted murders due to anti-abortion violence in the US.

Federal Bureau of Investigation’s “Ten Most Wanted” poster of anti-abortion extremist James Kopp. Convicted of killing Dr. Barnett Slepian at home in Amherst, New York, in October, 1998, Kopp received the maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison. 

Jesus crying over aborted baby The Eastern Orthodox Church believes that life begins at conception, and abortion equals murder. If a woman whose life is at risk terminates her pregnancy, she won’t be excommunicated for the sin, but must confess to a priest and fulfill a penance. On the other hand, in Islam, a fetus is believed to become a living soul after 4 months of gestation, so abortion after then is impermissible. When a mother’s life is at risk, religious texts prioritize saving the “original source of life” instead of the “potential life”. 

Jesus crying over aborted baby

The Eastern Orthodox Church believes that life begins at conception, and abortion equals murder. If a woman whose life is at risk terminates her pregnancy, she won’t be excommunicated for the sin, but must confess to a priest and fulfill a penance. On the other hand, in Islam, a fetus is believed to become a living soul after 4 months of gestation, so abortion after then is impermissible. When a mother’s life is at risk, religious texts prioritize saving the “original source of life” instead of the “potential life”. 

Zika Aedes aegypti mosquitoes transmit the feared Zika virus to pregnant women, who can pass it to their unborn children. Recent Zika outbreaks in Brazil have been linked to microcephaly in babies. In early 2016, the Brazilian government recorded 3,893 new cases of the fetal anomaly. The World Health Organization has urged increased access to abortion for pregnant women infected with Zika in Latin America, but the procedure remains limited in Brazil, Panama, Venezuela, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, Paraguay and El Salvador.

Zika

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes transmit the feared Zika virus to pregnant women, who can pass it to their unborn children. Recent Zika outbreaks in Brazil have been linked to microcephaly in babies. In early 2016, the Brazilian government recorded 3,893 new cases of the fetal anomaly.

The World Health Organization has urged increased access to abortion for pregnant women infected with Zika in Latin America, but the procedure remains limited in Brazil, Panama, Venezuela, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, Paraguay and El Salvador.

Abortion confession: 365 days of forgiveness

On November 8, 2015, the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy began. It is a one year holy period, in which Pope Francis has allowed every priest in the world be forgive the sin of abortion. St. John Paul II taught in Evangelium Vitae (paragraph 58) that abortion is “murder” and aborting women should be excommunicated.

Audio installation: Hidden audio recording of a fake confession of a real abortion and its indulgence.

Bologna, February, 2016 – Jubilee Year.

click to view the full series of images (Law, God & Violence) in the archive

 

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Transmongolian. The Secret History of the Mongols


© Alvaro Laiz

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Transmongolian. The Secret History of the Mongols


© Alvaro Laiz

The Secret History of the Mongols, considered to be the oldest Mongolian language literary work, is the single significant native account of Mongolia’s rise to power around the 12th century AD. Providing a clear narration of the vicissitudes that brought a disperse land of nomads to become the greatest domination in Asia, the work paints a clear portrait of the journey taken by a young Temuiin before transforming into, the great ruler of Asia, Genghis Khan.

Blended with fictional and historical accounts, the epic poetry and narrative, recounts how the warrior was able to organize more than thirty tribes battling for control, and how once in power, with the objective to augment his population and face the Chinese army commanded by Song dynasty, declared homosexuality illegal under death penalty. It is curious to recall that transsexuality has a certain root inside the Mongol tradition. The Shaman had a special status inside the nomad population. They would connect the spiritual world to the human world.

Today, more than eight hundred years later, Mongolia is a sovereign country with the lowest population rate in the world, lower than two inhabitants per square kilometer and being a homosexual, continues to be taboo. The weight of tradition and the years under Soviet control, a time in which homosexuals were sent to gulag, surmise a ballast for gays, lesbians, and transsexuals, who continue to be repressed, rejected, and victimized. Condemned to a life of secrecy, many of them find themselves turning to prostitution, others lead a life of solitude. The younger wrestle to flee the Mongolian borders, to countries such as the Philippines or Japan, where their condition is much more tolerable and dreams of a sex change are attainable, but above all, to an identity which in their native land, has been denied way too long.

The situation of the homosexual group has been gathered in several reports made by International Amnesty and Human Rights Watch and emphasize that “ in spite of that the homosexual conduct is not specifically gathered as crime, International Amnesty and the Association of Gays and Lesbians criticize the part of the Penal Code in which one makes reference to the obtaining of sexual pleasure as an immoral practices, arguing that can be used against persons who show a homo- sexual conduct as well as a vigilance continued by the police “.

The Human Rights’s annual report on Mongolia affirms that “there have been denunciations by people who have been public attacked, that has refused them to entry in shops and in night bars and who have been discriminated due to his sexual condition in his working place, as well as denunciations made by people retained in centres of detention based only and exclusively in his sexual condition”.

Gays, lesbians and transsexuals are socially suppressed, rejected and underprivileged people. Forced to look for help between those of the same condition, some of them become male prostitutes o prostitutes, others get a life of loneliness and concealment. The youngest fight to go out out from Mongolia, to countries as The Philippines or Japan, where theirs condition are much more easier and in even they might compete for a change of sex. And the most important, a social re- cognition impossible to achieve in theirs own country.

click to view the complete set of images in the archive 

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Refugees passage to the Olympics


©  Riverboom

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Refugees passage to the Olympics


©  Riverboom

Two years and a half ago they arrived in Rio de Janeiro from the Democratic Republic of Congo, to compete in the Judo World Championship and they never left.

Today Yolande Mabika and Popole Misenga, refugee athletes, thanks to a former Olympic trainer and a Brazilian judo superstar, they’re hoping to realize their Olympic dream, walking on August 5th in the Maracana stadium behind the Olympic flag.

For the first time in the Olympic history, the International Olympic Committee has decided to create a team of refugee athletes that will compete in Rio under the Olympic flag.

The two Congolese athletes are training in one of Rio’s most dangerous favela, Cidade de Deus, with Gerardo Bernardes, a four-time Olympic trainer, and coach of two of the most famous Brazilian judoka, Bronze medal Flavio Canto and world Champion Rafaela Silva.

Born in a small village in Congo, in 1997, when they were 9 and 7 years old Yolande and Popole were taken away from their families and ended up living in a refugee camp in Kinshasa.

Here they started to train in judo and in few years they enter the national team, where they were taught that winning is everything and that you should win at any cost. And if you didn’t win you ended up in prison.

In 2013 they came to Rio de Janeiro for the Judo World Championship and here their coach abandoned them without documents and money. For about eight months they survived thanks to the Congolese community in a very remote and dangerous favela in the north part of the city. Then judo came to rescue them. Caritas, the volunteers’ organization, put them in contact with Gerardo Bernardes who in 2000 had opened in Cidade de Deus, with judo superstar’s Flavio Canto, Instituto Reaçao, a NGO who’s aim is to help kids of the favelas, through judo practice.

Today Instituto Reaçao has five centers of training in five different favelas where they train 1250 kids.

We met the two judokas and Gerardo Bernardes in Cidade de Deus.

“Do they have a chance to win a medal?” I asked Mr. Bernardes. “They wouldn’t be here training if if I didn’t believe so” he replied.

Yolande Mabika and Popole Misenga ride a bus for two hours and a half every day to go to practice. The Instituo Reaçao pay for their rent, their food, their bus tickets and recently it also managed to send them back to school.

About a month ago the Brasilian Olympic committee has decided to sponsor their training with the judo Brazilian team and to pay for their travel expenses to competitions in preparation for the Olympic Games.

This, according to Mr. Bernardes, means that in June, when the International Olympic Committee will announce the refugees team, Popole Misenga and Yolande Mabika’s names will be on that list.

text by Manuela Parrino

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© Kevin Faingnaert