Jodi Bieber is a South African photographer based in London. Her work takes a close look at the social wars within society. Though South Africa is her passion, her work has taken her to many other countries, including the rest of Africa, Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan.
She began her career by covering the period leading up to the first democratic elections in South Africa in 1994. After participating in the World Press Photo master class in 1996, her career expanded to the foreign media. She has also collaborated with several nonprofit organizations.
Bieber has received eight World Press Photo awards, a gold award at the Society of Publications Designers Awards for her work covering the Ebola crisis in Uganda, and a best cover design at the British Media Awards for her project on domestic violence in South Africa.
Her work has been included in many international group exhibitions, and she had her first solo exhibition at Visa Pour L’Image in Perpignon, France, in 2001. Her first book, Between Dogs and Wolves—Growing up with South Africa, which includes highlights from a decade of work in South Africa, was published in 2006.
In South Africa:
One out of four women is beaten regularly by her intimate partner.
One woman is killed every six days by her intimate partner.
One woman is raped every 26 seconds.
Amnesty International and Médecins Sans Frontières collaborated with nine photographers in a global project to highlight that violence against women is a universal problem.
My project focuses on South Africa, where the news is filled with horrific accounts of violence, and abuse is discussed and debated on a daily basis.
I worked closely with organizations that shelter and assist women who have been abused. The women I photographed were very courageous. Poverty is rife in South Africa and many women rely on their partners for financial support, making it difficult to walk away. Nonetheless, these women have managed to leave their abusive relationships.
They were also willing to make their stories public. For some, making these portraits was part of the healing process; for others, the stories were an attempt to save other women.
The more these issues are discussed openly, the more women will no longer be willing to tolerate abuse. By leaving, they not only liberate themselves, but make it acceptable and a little easier for other women to escape.
By speaking out about their experiences and sharing their stories, these women have exposed the unacceptable abuse that exists in relationships. I believe that each time this work is exhibited it opens a door through which another victim can walk to safety.
This is not just a South African story.
—Jodi Bieber, September 2006