2003 Photo Contest, Portraits, 1st prize

Brent Stirton

Getty Images / RPM for UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs

27 September, 2002

Original caption from World Press Photo (2003)

A 12-year-old former 'bushwife' in Sierra Leone. She was 10 when RUF rebels abducted her.

The soldiers used children and young women as porters, cooks and sex slaves, hence the term 'bushwife'. The scars on this girl's body are as a result of burns made by caustic soda. She was caught trying to escape and tortured as an example to other abductees. The long-running conflict in Sierra Leone finally came to an end in the first months of 2002, leaving many thousands of deeply traumatized women. With very few counseling services available, the women began to form their own groups to address their experiences.

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More information
Through a Glass Darkly, by Robert Godden, published on Witness in September 2017
How should vulnerable children be represented in the media? Are we guilty of applying different ethical standards dependent on the race, ethnicity, nationality, location, gender or class of the child? Robert Godden explores these questions and provides guidelines for photojournalists and organizations. 

About the photographer

Brent Stirton

Brent Stirton is a special correspondent for Getty Images, and a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine as well as other international titles.  He speci...

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