Archive for Asia

Behind Closed Doors

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2014 by stevemccurry

The women came from different countries with the same dream:
to leave behind the poverty of their villages.
But instead of working as domestic help, they found themselves in a kind of prison,
employed by people who treated them like something less than human.
One was stabbed with a knife, another doused in boiling water, another raped and jailed.


Steve McCurry, best known for his work in war-torn countries like Afghanistan,
 documented the suffering of women from Indonesia,
Nepal and the Philippines who endured a myriad of abuses while
working for families elsewhere in Asia and the Middle East.

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“They’re at the complete mercy of these people who see them almost like slaves:
‘You’re my property, you’ll do what I say,’” McCurry said.

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“They go home, they’re disfigured, they don’t have money, 
and they’re psychologically scarred. 
They end up going home humiliated, and it becomes a stigma. 
In a way, their lives are ruined.”

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Steve McCurry, who has spent about 35 years in Asia, came to this project
through Karen Emmons, a
Bangkok-based journalist who
became interested in the abuse of domestic workers about
seven years ago, while researching an ILO report in Indonesia. 


They visited shelters in Hong Kong and
women back in their home countries:
the Philippines, Indonesia and Nepal,

spending a week in each place.

DSC_8495_es, Indonesia, Domestic Violence, 07/2013. Woman shows her scars.

It is not necessarily a new story.
A Malaysian couple was recently sentenced to be hanged for murdering
their Indonesian maid by starving her,
the latest in a series of headline-grabbing outrages.

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Responding to horrific treatment in countries like Saudi Arabia,
the International Labor Organization, or ILO, a branch of the United Nations,
passed a treaty to protect domestic workers in 2011.

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Yet the abuses continue, and
only 14 countries have ratified the treaty.
To see the list of countries which have ratified the treaty go to:

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“We wanted to tell them that this terrible evil act had to be exposed,
just for humanity’s sake,” Mr. McCurry said.
“ I think if you’ve been wronged like that,
you just want people to know that this happened…”

Text by Kim Barker, New York Times

Yemen at the Crossroads

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2011 by stevemccurry


YEMEN-10009NF2Women Gathering Clover, Shibam, Wadi Hadhramaut, Yemen 


Strategically located at the crossroads of Africa, the Middle East and Asia,  ancient Yemen became wealthy from the spice trade.  It was so rich the Romans called the land Arabia Felix, Happy Arabia.  Augustus Ceasar tried, but failed, to annex it.  Today it is the poorest country in the Arab world. 









Chronic unemployment, dwindling oil and water supplies, high illiteracy rates, government corruption, and a feuding tribal culture, have created fertile ground for a growing Al-Qaeda presence.





 Sana’a, a living museum,  was declared a World Heritage City by the United Nations in 1986.  There are efforts  to preserve some of the oldest buildings, which are over 1000 years old, but many think that it is too little too late.




Sana’a is a must, however long it takes to get there – Yemeni Proverb









In January and February, 2011, thousands of Yemenis marched to demand a change in government.  The president who has been in power for decades pledged not to run again when his term runs out in 2013.   With 40% unemployment, malnutrition, and rising food prices, it is difficult to see how he can keep the reins of power without major concessions. 


Women queue up to vote in parliamentary elections





In Yemen’s weapon’s culture, it is estimated that there are at least three firearms for each person. 



YEMEN-10033NF  Known as “jambiya“, ornamental knives are an important fashion accessory for Yemeni men.   









The tradition of reciting poetry represents a rich cultural heritage in Yemen.  Oral poetry has offers a socially acceptable way for men and women to solve problems, manage conflicts, and communicate feelings of sorrow, happiness, and worry, according to Najwa Adra, a New York-based anthropologist.






Some poets in Yemen are using poetry to battle extremism.


O men of arms, why do you love injustice?
You must live in law and order
Get up, wake up, or be forever regretful,
Don’t be infamous among the nations

-Amin al-Mashreqi



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