rebecca conway, winner of the may 2017 edition

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Rebecca is a photo editor for Agence France Presse, covering South Asia. Between 2007 and 2013 she was based in Pakistan and has worked with clients including GRN, IRIN, Reuters, AFP, AP, Save the Children, Oxfam and The National, covering breaking and general news, features and analysis.

When doing her own photography assignments, she focus on minority communities and those affected by conflict. She’s currently focusing on a long term project documenting civilian PTSD and trauma in Indian administered Kashmir, using weekends, holidays and any other spare time to travel to Kashmir.

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Project Statement, Valley of the Shadow

This ongoing project centers on civilian trauma in Indian-­‐controlled Kashmir, which has been the focus of a separatist insurgency for almost three decades. While the ensuing violence has been widely captured I am focusing on the impact, documenting Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression. I aim to produce work that illustrates the current situation in the Kashmir Valley and resonates beyond it, by focusing on an underreported angle of long-­‐running conflict and the lasting effect on those caught up in it.

A 2016 Doctors Without Borders survey says more than 1.5 million people living in the Kashmir Valley have symptoms of depression. The waiting rooms and corridors of the capital Srinagar’s main psychiatric treatment facilities are frequently crammed. Many patients suffer from symptoms brought on, doctors say, by enduring years of conflict. 

Curfews paralyze Kashmir’s streets for days. Street violence is routine and rights groups accuse Indian forces of violations including enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings, estimating 8,000 Kashmiris have gone missing. Residents speak of the endless fear of being detained by police. Many seek solace in religion, huddling in the homes of faith healers and flocking to Sufi shrines.