Join us as Gabriela Maj speaks about her new book:
PORTRAITS FROM THE WOMEN’S PRISONS
Thursday, May 21st at Oak 45
45 Main Street, Winooski
“Women [in Afghanistan] who run away from home to escape abuse are tracked down like criminals by the police and often end up incarcerated while their assailants go unpunished … The passionate battle waged by many conservative groups to keep women out of the classroom and the workplace ensures that women remain dependent and that an individual who is rejected by her family – a fate that befalls almost all incarcerated women – is completely vulnerable …” — Gabriela Maj
Over the course of four years (2010 – 2014), Polish Canadian photographer Gabriela Maj travelled throughout Afghanistan to collect portraits and stories from inside the country’s women’s prisons, including the most notorious penitentiary for women, Badam Bagh, located on the outskirts of Kabul. Maj’s project is the largest record documenting the experiences of incarcerated women in Afghanistan produced to date. Her hauntingly beautiful, compassionate photographs along with the accompanying personal stories of the inmates are gathered together in her first monograph Almond Garden (Daylight Books) the incongruous title of which is the English translation of Badam Bagh.
The majority of the prisoners Maj documented were incarcerated for what are known in Afghanistan as “moral crimes,” a term to describe the ways a person may be accused of “zina,” or sex between two people who are not married. The offenses these women were accused of include running away from forced marriages, being sold into prostitution, domestic slavery, physical violence generally conducted by their husbands, and rape and involuntary pregnancy. Being an independent female photographer enabled Maj to gain extraordinary access to her subjects with whom she established a rapport and trust, visiting with many of the incarcerated women featured in the book over the course of multiple visits.