Women in Photography 2018 Exhibition
YO NO DÍ A LUZ | Nadia Shira Cohen

There are 66 countries that prohibit abortion under nearly all circumstances – though almost all of them exclude cases where the mother’s life is in danger. But in five of these nations, there are no exceptions. El Salvador, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Malta and Vatican City forbid abortion, even in situations of rape, incest, unviable fetus, or risk to the mother’s life.

Pregnant women in today’s El Salvador face a number of challenges ranging from Zika virus, which has been linked to instances of microcephaly in newborns, to the constant threat of gang violence. Many are victims of rape, often associated with gang initiations as well as as high levels of incest, with many, alarmingly between the ages of 10 and 14. However the most important threat to women’s reproductive rights is by far the state’s criminal ban on abortion.

Since El Salvador’s absolute abortion ban came into law in 1998, some 150 women have been prosecuted under it. Doctors and nurses in public hospitals are required by the law to report suspicious activity to the authorities, which can lead to between 6 months to 7 years in prison. It is the poorer class of women who suffer the most, as doctors in private hospitals are not required to give information. Some women are even sentenced to up to 40-year prison terms for what are essentially still births. They are known as the Mata Niños, roughly 25-30 women imprisoned and serving between 30 to 50 year sentences on homicide charges for allegedly killing their newborn children. Prosecutors argue against science, accusing women of willing themselves to expel their premature babies, creating an environment where women are persecuted for the natural workings of their own bodies.

About Nadia Shira Cohen
Nadia Shira Cohen was born in Boston in 1977,with a great curiosity for the world and the unknown. At the age of 15, Nadia was diagnosed with cancer. At the same time, she took up photography and received her first camera. Documenting her physical transformation in self-portraits along with images of fellow sick friends helped to battle her way through the long two years of treatment. She continued to pursue her passion for photography at the University of Vermont. Her curious nature led her into photojournalism, working as a stringer in New York City for the Associated Press. With a desire to understand the photojournalism industry, Nadia began working for SIPA Press before moving into the world renowned photo agency VII, working with some of the world’s most talented and compassionate photojournalists. Feeling the need to return to her own work as a photographer, she began to work freelance, mostly on self-initiated reportage. Since 2007, Nadia has been based in Rome, Italy, where she continues with a creative spirit, to tell stories of the lives of people who interest her and which she compassionately feels the need to expose, working across many nations, cultures and themes.

:: Exhibition: 5 Oct to 18 Nov 2018
:: Guided photographer & curator tour: 5 Oct, Fri, 6pm to 7pm
:: Artist talk I: 6 Oct, Sat, 2pm to 4pm
:: Artist talk II: 6 Oct, Sat, 4pm to 6pm
:: Slideshow Projection featuring Women Photograph: 8 Nov, Thu, 730pm to 9pm
:: Short Film Screening: 5 Oct to 28 Oct, 12pm to 7pm, Lower Gallery
:: Women in Film 2018 (10 to 13 Oct, 730pm)