Marilyn Stafford Fotoreportage Award

Valentina Sinis and Fabiola Ferrero of the VII Mentor Program have received honorable mentions for this year’s Marilyn Stafford Fotoreportage Award

© Valentina Sinis / VII Mentor Program. Daroon is trying to stand up, helped by her mother, the day before her first surgery. Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan Region, Iraq, 3 November 2019. Two years after her marriage at 18, Daroon suddenly decided to end her life by setting her body on fire. A moment later she regretted her decision but was too late and almost 30 percent of her body was burned and she spent the next three months in an emergency hospital in Sulaymaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan.

Domestic violence and physical abuse at home are global issues. But nowhere are they more prevalent than in societies whose foundational values are still patriarchal. In these societies, women have no escape but submission, and those who can’t submit have very few alternatives. “Broken Princess” by Valentina Sinis is the story of women in Iraqi Kurdistan who tried to escape the violence by setting themselves on fire. Those who survive are left with terrible physical scars and possibly harder psychological ones: they regret their choice but have a very limited social structure to lean on for recovery. With little support or visibility, they find themselves in a place that is worse, if possible, than before. The project will be a complete body of work, made using photography, video, and text. A balanced approach of narrative – daily shots, dreams, suffering, and memories will be paired with factual evidence providing the wider context Valentina is looking for. The actual end result she aspires for is that this body of work acts as a catalyst to provide better opportunities for women to live in better conditions.

© Fabiola Ferrero / VII Mentor Program. [Left] A cemetery in Portuguesa State, Venezuela. [Right] A farmer stands behind a plastic curtain in Portuguesa State, Venezuela. November 2017.

“Blurred in Despair” by Fabiola Ferrero aims to portray a collective mental state. Venezuela’s crisis involves a lot more than numbers and money. The increasing hostility of daily life has created debilitating psychological trauma for citizens, and people have begun to feel lost in their quest for survival. According to the “Emotional Map”, a study conducted by Venezuelan psychologist Yorelis Acosta, it appears that the country is collectively in a state of depression due to relentless exposure to hostile situations. When survival becomes a priority, happiness becomes a blurred concept. “Blurred in Despair” is a vehicle to educate my fellow countrymen about depression through public presentations in partnership with Yoreslis Acosta to help prevent fatal consequences.