Photographing disability rights in Gaza

Last week, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) embarked on an exciting photography project with Palestinians with disabilities in Gaza. Taking on the role as photographers, the project is supporting people with disabilities to tell their own stories through photography, raising awareness locally and internationally of disability rights and the barriers to these rights in Gaza.

In the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) people with disabilities face significant challenges to their rights. Disability continues to be stigmatised, with degrading terminology and attitudes common. Combined with many practical obstacles, this mindset makes it difficult for many people with disabilities to realise their right to full inclusion and participation in society. Living under prolonged occupation, blockade and closure also greatly exacerbates the difficulties that people with disabilities face.

MAP’s partner, the Nusirat Rehabilitation and Social Training Association, provides rights-based training and support to people with disabilities in Gaza, enabling them to become advocates in their local community to bring about change and challenge public perceptions of disability. The photography project seeks to amplify Nusirat’s important work, connecting the experiences and voices of Palestinians with disabilities to the outside world.

Last week, 15 individuals from Nusirat, including people with mobility restrictions, hearing and visual impairments, attended a workshop facilitated by MAP to begin their journey as photographers. Over a month, participants will be supported to take illustrative photos of places, people and objects of importance to them as well as the difficulties they encounter in their daily lives.

Strict movement controls make it hard for almost anyone to travel in and out of Gaza, let alone people with disabilities. It is hoped that the photographs will enable people everywhere to see life through the eyes of a person with a disability in Gaza.

The participants will take photographs on their phones, improving their techniques for capturing powerful shots, including from different perspectives and framing through windows and doors. Even at the workshop, held at one of the most accessible venues in Gaza, two participants photographed how toilets could not be used by people in wheelchairs. We at MAP are learning through this project too!

The participants will collect photos that represent something they like to do or need to do as part of their daily lives, something that makes it difficult to do this, their favourite place and their dreams. The group will discuss their photos, explore the issues highlighted and then go out again to collect more photographs, capturing any issue not yet highlighted or in greater detail.

We are already thrilled by some of the photos taken and greatly looking forward to sharing them, including at events in Gaza and the UK to mark International Day for People with Disabilities, in December.

Watch this space for updates on the photographers’ journeys over the next month.

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