By Zohra Bensemra
There are so many slums in Pakistan, and they can be home to all sorts of communities – Christians, Shi’ites, Afghan refugees, or Pakistanis fleeing violence or seeking jobs.
But whatever their background, they all face the same struggles in their daily lives. The divisions of religion and nationality are less important than finding clean water, a space to study, or a battered toy for a young child to play with.
Working in these areas requires great respect for the residents, and the photographer must be aware of cultural taboos.
Photographing women is very difficult. There have been several cases where women have been killed because a photograph or a video showed them clapping, laughing or singing. If someone in the slums objects to me taking a photo, I will delete it immediately. It’s not worth making them suffer for an image.
For me, a picture I shot of an empty pink party dress represents the struggle to show many Pakistani women through photography. They may have a good time or wear bright colors but you will rarely be allowed to record it. The dress shows a woman’s presence by her absence.