As a researcher for Human Rights Watch for seven years, Samer Muscati documented the aftermath of some of humanity’s darkest acts. His special area of concentration was international women’s rights in conflict areas, with a particular emphasis on Africa and the Middle East. In gathering the harrowing testimony of these women, Muscati found photography invaluable in processing his own experience. He often shared the portraits with the women he is interviewing, finding that the medium served as a kind of bonding agent.
“I see the women whom I photograph as active partners in the process,” says Muscati. “It is their life, their story, and their image. They have often lost so much, but offer whatever they have by sharing their experiences to stop the abuse from happening to others.” Their truths become weapons for change.
This exhibition offers a moving account of the shifting fates of women and girls in a period of profound global transition. It features portraits of women whom Muscati met and interviewed during most recent work with Human Rights Watch, which documents the plight of women in Iraq, Syria, South Sudan, Kenya, Zambia, and Canada.
Read Muscati’s article for The Star reflecting on the strength of the women he has met, what they have taught him, and the importance and nuances of chronicling human rights violations. “Our role is never to ‘give voice to the voiceless’. Survivors of atrocities and other oppressed people already have a voice. The problem is that those in power refuse to listen. Our role is to provide a platform.”
We envision the exhibition space as a site for reflection, discussion, and engagement throughout the month. Students, staff, and community members are invited to submit a short piece of writing on a particular photograph that compels a response. Participants of the “write-in program” will have the opportunity to receive, for free, the photograph with which they have engaged.
Writing can be in the form of prose, flash fiction, poetry, non-fiction, twitterature, or personal statement. Submissions should be no longer than 400 words. There is no minimum length requirement.
With your submission please include:
the caption of the photograph you are responding to
contact email address and phone number
Send your original writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click on the images below to see all photographs relative to each country.