Life in War
Contemporary Issues, second prize stories
Zahra (20) set fire to herself four years before this photo was taken.
Forced marriage, domestic violence, poverty, and lack of access to education are said to be among leading reasons for self-immolation. Conservative laws and traditions in Afghanistan place women in a subordinate position. Some women find that setting themselves alight—as a form of protest, or in attempted suicide—is the only option that seems open to them.
The people of Afghanistan have had to deal with conflict and military occupation for much of the past 50 years. Conflict and long-term instability in Afghanistan have led to personal trauma, and severe economic and infrastructural damage. Foreign aid has helped support various initiatives to improve infrastructure and education, but as occupation forces withdraw and Western economies face their own difficulties, funds to NGOs are being cut.
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About the photographer
Majid Saeedi is an award-winning, internationally recognized Iranian photographer. He has photographed throughout the Middle East for the past two decades, focusing on humanitarian issues, with a special interest in telling previously untold stories of social injustice. He also especially enjoys doing street photography – portraying citizens and ordinary life.
Saeedi was born and raised in Tehran. He took up photography at the age of 16 and, when he turned 18, went to the Iran-Iraq border to photograph refugees there.
Saeedi has managed the photography departments of various news agencies in Iran and has led key projects for over 15 years. His work has appeared internationally, in such publications as The Times, Spiegel, Life, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Time magazine, and various Middle Eastern publications and for online agencies. His recent work includes images of Libyan people fighting for democracy, and landmine victims in Afghanistan.
Saeedi has won numerous prizes for his photographs around the world, most recently the 2012 R.F. Kennedy Award, a Lucie Award in 2011, for his work in Afghanistan, a UNICEF award in 2010, and the Gold Award from China in 2011. For the past eight years, he has received the annual accolade of best photographer in Iran. When he is not working, Saeedi likes to teach photography to students and mentor young photographers.