John Doe

Law Into her Own Hands

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There is no justice in my country. Corruption, precarious law proceedings and lacking infrastructure have made permanent victims of each one of us. In this scenario, women are the most vulnerable and unprotected actors; physical abuse and rape are still part of their daily lives.This is a project that uses photography to redeem something from the stories of unidentified decedents whose bodies are donated to medical schools, leaving behind only clothes and personal effects that the court system archives and, after completing an investigation, has incinerated. The search for these items took me to the deposit for property seized by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the place where all evidence presented in ongoing trials is stored. One of the many items I found got my attention: a plastic container with a green lid, which I opened to reveal a strand of human hair.My first inclination was to think it belonged to the deceased. But every object stored in this mess of a deposit was tagged with a code that linked them to their court files. Some days later, I began my own investigation in the judicial archives. The story in the container exceeded what I had expected, and summarized the crude reality of violence against women in our society. The deceased woman, whom nobody had identified, was a victim of murder and rape. The hair in the container had been found in her hands, and belonged to her attacker. “Law into her own hands,” I thought, and took the photograph, capturing her last words in a container forever.

Astrid Jahnsen

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