Photos of Nepali Womanhood Coming to Global Education Center

January 26, 2009
Nepali women at a market in Kathmandu.

Nepali women at a market in Kathmandu.

Photographs taken by and of Nepali women in the winter of 2007-2008 will be on display Feb. 3 through March 31 at the FedEx Global Education Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The exhibit, “Didi: Conversations on Nepali Womanhood,” will open with a free public reception at 7 p.m. Feb. 3 at the center, located at the corner of McCauley and Pittsboro streets. The photographer, Megan Hamilton, will make brief remarks. “Didi” means “sister” in Nepali.

Hamilton, a 2008 graduate of Carolina, took pictures in Kathmandu, Nepal, and the surrounding countryside, seeking to document conditions that make Nepali women vulnerable to sex trafficking. The 29 photographs in the exhibit also communicate that Hamilton was able to connect with her Nepali subjects on common ground despite a language barrier and their differing cultural backgrounds.

Each year 10,000 Nepali girls and women are trafficked across an open border into India, where they are forced into lives of prostitution, according to the international nonprofit group Tiny Hands International. Hamilton studied this problem. She also worked in a safe house for women and girls called the Princess Home, where she sought the trust and confidence of the residents.

Recognizing the limits that her Western perspective would bring to her photography, Hamilton gave the women and girls digital cameras with which to document their lives. Their colorful images, contrasting with Hamilton’s black-and-white photos in “Didi,” capture the security they found in the Princess Home.

“Didi” is part of the Carolina Women’s Center’s efforts to raise awareness about sex trafficking – on a global and a local scale.

“These photographs illustrate the intersection of local and global perspectives while pointing to some ways everyday people can contribute to the fight against this crisis,” said Donna Bickford, Carolina Women’s Center director. “Together, they form a moving dialogue between East and West, hope and despair; they relate how very different women came together, overcame language and cultural barriers and shared stories that emphasized their sameness.

“Meg’s powerful photos make clear the challenge (that sex trafficking) survivors face and also the resilience of these women,” Bickford said.
The Global Education Center is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Parking may be available under or behind the center after 5 p.m. and Saturdays. For more information, visit www.global.unc.edu .

The exhibit is sponsored by UNC’s Carolina Women’s Center and Office of International Affairs. Mediterranean Deli will cater the reception.

Tiny Hands International Web site: http://www.tinyhandsinternational.org/

Carolina Women’s Center contact: Pam Lach, (919) 962-8305, \n plach@email.unc.edu
Office of International Affairs contact: Laura Griest, (919) 962-0318, \n lauragriest@unc.edu
News Services contact: LJ Toler, (919) 962-8589