Award of Excellence

Self-Immolation among the Kurdish Women

Shaghayegh Moradiannejad


According to the reports of Iraq Union of Women in Kurdistan and the activists of Iraq in the field of women rights, the highest rank of self-immolation in the world is attributed to the Kurdish women of Iraq (the statistics can be classified city by city and the whole region) and the annual statistics increases too. In Syria, presently it is not possible to obtain an accurate report of women self-immolation in the Rojava region due to current wars and its negative effects. In Turkey, women self-immolation is known as a political action and the current government of Turkey does not announce any statistics in this regard. In Iran, there is no statistics about this phenomenon due to religious and political reasons by the government but there can be found numerous theses and local investigations by the university students majoring in sociology and psychology. But what can be more significant than the official and governmental statistics is the countless self-immolation that occurs among the Kurdish women. The main reasons for their self-immolation can be poverty, family violence, forced marriage, and mental and emotional issues. The women who can show their objections only by hurting their own bodies. This photo collection narrates the story of Kurdish women in Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria. The Kurdish women whose choice was “Fire”. The main concept of this story is “LOSS”. A tangible vacancy that exists but everyone tries to hide it. A deep scar on the body of the society that should be treated. This loss can be summarized in photos and mementos for the families of the victims. The limited victims who could survive death will carry the story of this loss on their skin forever.

I am Shaghayegh, a social documentary photographer who is originally from Iran but basically lives in Canada. I am fond of narrating women’s stories. Due to religious and government rules, being a woman in the Middle East and Afghanistan is an unpleasant and complicated story, where men are in the position of power. I know their roots and their cultures. I know the meaning of war. I try to be a storyteller of women who carry the heavy and severe burden of war on their shoulders. As a photographer, being a woman is beyond the geographical borders to me. All over the world, all women have one common language, WOMAN!

[ ISSUE REPORTING PICTURE STORY ] A long-term project on a single topic. It could focus on science, news, politics or any number of topics, ranging from coverage of a single person to an entire community. The project must convey a deep understanding of the subject. Each submission consists of 10 to 40 images. Each participant is allowed to enter up to 3 submissions. All images must be taken in 2020 or 2021. Stories on COVID-19 should not be entered in this category.

Judges for Issue Reporting Picture Story
Ikuru Kuwajima
Tanvi Mishra
Sanjit Das
Maika Elan
Oded Wagenstein