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TAHMINA SALEEM – A lens woman from Afghanistan who is defying the odds

TAHMINA SALEEM – A lens woman from Afghanistan who is defying the odds

She is changing the narrative one story at a time!

Her lens captures photo stories of women bringing about change — a different perspective of the strength of Afghani women. Tahmina Saleem; the 27-year-old documentary photographer from Kabul is redefining the way the world looks at the Women from Afghanistan one photo story at a time; every story redefining hope courage and the willingness of positive thought and outcome from this war trodden land.

A trailblazer herself she studied photography academically and has won awards for her notable contributions and is a member of the “Afghanistan Photographers Association “ as well.

Here is Tahmina Saleem in a conversation with GOGO Magazine.

Q: Let’s start from the obvious; that how is the Taliban Regime gonna affect the whole scenario?

The Taliban regime is going to be extremely tough on any creative and artistic field and it has nothing to do with women (though they are notorious for that too) but even the men in the creative artistic and journalistic fields are gonna suffer a huge setback and scarcity of work and paucity of opportunities.

Q: So would it affect your personal equation with the camera?

No, though again the whole scenario of being able to shoot with the freedom earlier is now not available yet with the support of my family and husband I shall continue because my aim is to show the path-breaking, sensitivity and different genres of Afghan women who like their counterparts elsewhere can manage it all despite the severe challenges.

Q: Tell us more about your family?

I am the third in the line of six siblings and my father is a university Professor so he encouraged us all to explore our creative and academic side with staunch support from my mother as well. from music to teaching to photography we do it all.

Q: Apart from your family who else has shaped your path?

I was born in the Taliban regime with memories of my mother being berated for going out sockless yet they were brave women facing everything and bringing us up with honour- like my first teacher Khairunesa who taught us in a small room in her house despite the Taliban ban on education for girls. Farzana Wahidy my mentor and Massoud Hossaini(Pulitzer Awardee) who shaped my vision and craft. Farzana and Sahar speak initiated me into an international photojournalism program established by Amie Ferris Rotman.

Q: Tell us about some fields you have worked in?

I have actively participated in exhibitions for “violence elimination against women” “women empowerment “,” youth networks”, and “my voice my rights”.In fact, I won an Award from the Afghan Impassion Organisation in Paiwandgah as well. I have had solo exhibitions in Italy, Turkiye Embassy and a group exhibition in the US, London, China, Iran, US Embassy, UN women and many more which hopefully shall continue. My signature style is to show successful Afghan women and the challenges faced by them in Afghan society. Several of my works have been published in Huffington post, Guardian, Yoga journal, News Deeply, Newsweek etc.

Q: Tell us a few of your favourite stories?

My documentary on Humaira Sabawoon from the Pashtun area(generally stereotyped for being more backward than the whole of Afghanistan)who is studying music and singing with her granddaughter and defying a lot of prejudices-a woman of grit whose story was picked by the News Week. Then the story for Guardian about Mahgul a sufferer of microcephaly and yet the caregiver for her four younger siblings; an unusual narrative of sheer strength. And of course the trailblazing women of Kabul with Farzana Wahidy yet again the whole idea being to show Radical women from a street artist to a kickboxer; all breaking the stereotype!

Q: As a photographer which is your favourite gear and what do you plan to explore further despite the restrictions?

I use my trademark DSLR and yes despite the restrictions I shall continue on my chosen path of redefining the way the world looks at Afghani Women from whether within the country or outside my commitment to my chosen path shall continue with equal dedication.


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About The Author

Deepika Kochhar

Cliched totally— Traveller by passion Jewellery Designer by profession And A wordsmith by hobby😊

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