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South African Photographer, Jodi Bieber has won the grand prize in the 2011 World Press Photo Awards, the World Press Photo of the year.

Jodi’s winning picture was from a series of images on the plight of women of Afghanistan and shows Bibi Aisha, an 18-year-old woman from Oruzgan province in Afghanistan, who fled back to her family home from her husband’s house, complaining of violent treatment. The Taliban arrived one night, demanding Bibi be handed over to face justice. After a Taliban commander pronounced his verdict, Bibi’s brother-in-law held her down and her husband sliced off her ears and then cut off her nose. Bibi was abandoned, but later rescued by aid workers and the American military. After time in a women’s refuge in Kabul, she was taken to America, where she received counseling and reconstructive surgery. Bibi Aisha now lives in the US.

The portrait of Bibi Aisha was also awarded First prize in the category Portraits Singles in this year’s contest. It was shot for Time and was featured on the cover of the 1 August issue of the magazine.


Above: Aisha’s father murdered two men in rural Afghanistan. In return for his punishment he gave away his two daughters for marriage. Aisha was abused by her husband and in-laws so she ran away to the neighbour. The neighbours called the police and the police arrested Aisha. She went to Kandahar prison . She was pardoned and her father then returned her to her husband. The Taliban village jury then decided as punishement to cut off Ashia’s ears and nose. She was left to bleed to death. Aisha is now in the USA to undergo reconstructive surgery on her nose and ears at the Grossman Burns Foundation. PHOTO: Jodi Bieber, South Africa, Institute for Artist Management/Goodman Gallery for Time magazine

Jodi Bieber has previously won eight World Press Photo awards and is only the second South African photographer to win the highest honor in the contest. She is a former participant of the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass where she returned as a master in 2010. Bieber is represented by Institute for Artist Management and South Africa’s Goodman Gallery.

Jury chair David Burnett said: ‘This could become one of those pictures – and we have maybe just ten in our lifetime – where if somebody says “you know, that picture of a girl…”, you know exactly which one they’re talking about.’

Juror Ruth Eichhorn commented: ’It’s an incredibly strong image. It sends out an enormously powerful message to the world, about the 50% of the population that are women, so many of whom still live in miserable conditions, suffering violence. It is strong because the woman looks so dignified, iconic.’

Juror Vince Aletti said: ’It’s a terrific picture, a different picture, a frightening picture. It’s so much about not just this particular woman, but the state of women in the world.’

Juror Aidan Sullivan said: ‘Part of what the World Press Photo contest does is to take pictures to a wider audience, an audience that is going to ask why? And this photo makes people ask “What on earth…?” “What’s going on…?” “What has happened…?” For me, this was the picture that asked the most important questions.’

Well done Jodi. You have made us all proud!

Listen to Jodi’s reaction when she was first told

View a biography of Jodi

See Jodi’s website

Another South African photographer, Mike Hutchings shooting for Reuters won first prize Sports Singles with a picture of Netherlands soccer player Demy de Zeeuw being kicked in the face by Uruguay’s Martin Cáceres during World Cup semi-final, Cape Town, 6 July. See the picture.