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Meet Heba Khamis, the First Egyptian Journalist to Win the Prestigious World Press Photo Award

[EXCLUSIVE] From breast ironing in the Cameroon to gay refugee prostitution in Berlin, this seemingly unassuming award-winning photojournalist is making her mark globally while spotlighting the disenfranchised one startlingly captured image at a time.

Heba Khamis

In April 2018, Khamis became the first Egyptian photojournalist to win the World Press Photo Award, securing the feat with a raw, ground-breaking project on breast ironing in Cameroon, the traditional practice in which mothers use heated objects to iron their pubescent daughters' breasts in order to flatten them, in misguided hope it could potentially save them from rape and murder - which are rampant in the country - by delaying maturity and making them seem younger.

Khamis' project was the first visual story documenting the heart-wrenching practice, but like every great achievement, it came with a hefty price-tag; as she travelled to work on her projects in 2017, Khamis' father was carried to his final resting place, and she couldn't make it in time to say her final goodbyes. Exactly a year later, when she learnt about her nomination for the World Press Photo Award 2018, she received the news like a message from the beyond telling her the harrowing price she had to pay was not in vain.

Khamis now lives between Cairo and Amsterdam, with plans to permanently relocate to Europe soon. Up her sleeves are two projects, one on gay refugee prostitution in Berlin, and life for transgenders in Egypt.

This simple Egyptian girl, who - just because of how unassuming she is - wouldn't particularly strike you as a fierce fighter for the rights of groups and communities whose stories often go unheard, is a living and breathing example on how ignorant stereotypes are. This Muslim, Arab, and hijabi journalist is standing up for the rights of abused groups living in the very heart of the 'civilised world.'

'Banned Beauty' by Heba Khamis is currently being exhibited in The Tamara Building in Downtown Cairo as part of Cairo Photo Week, running until November 30th. Follow up with the daily agenda on the CairoScene Calendar.

Shoot by @MO4Network on location at The Tamara Building, @DowntownCairo


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