This is an image taken while I was on working on assignment with EveryChild UK in Ethiopia last summer. The portrait is part of a series of women and young girls, and their children, who have been affected by domestic violence and sexual violence. The crimes against the girls and women have often taken place in a family setting. They have been abused by someone close to them. And sadly in many cases it is the victim of sexual violence whose reputation is tainted. They are blamed for bringing shame to their families and in order to restore the family reputation it is mostly the victim who is ostracized, not the perpetrator. After the trauma of sexual and domestic violence the women are often forced to leave their homes, villages, everything and everyone they know and move to one of the major cities – where they know no one.
In the cities of Addis and Nazareth, thousands of girls sleep rough on the streets and are forced to earn money from Ethiopia’s prolific sex trade just to survive. Charities such as EveryChild UK reach out to the women and their children, offer the support they need in order to put their lives back together and ensure they are safe from the dangers of the street. Charities like EveryChild support safe homes where the girls and women are offered vocational training and a secure home to live in. Wherever possible they are then reintegrated with their families or, if this is not an option available to them, supported to live of their own.
This series of portraits was recently recognised with a bronze medal by the Prix de la Photographie 2012.