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Marika Dee January 2, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Turkey.
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From the project “Deadly Jeans”. Istanbul 2012

Marika Dee (b.1972, Belgium) is a documentary photographer based in Brussels. She graduated with a law degree from the University of Leuven in Belgium. After years of working as a jurist specialized in international law, Marika recently started working as a freelance documentary photographer. Since then she has photographed in Kosovo, Romania, Turkey, Belgium and Italy. Her images have been published in De Volkskrant, dS Weekblad, LeVif/L’express and Arbetaren among others. Her work has received recognition from UNICEF POY and International Photography Awards.

About the Photograph:

“The photograph is part of the series called “Deadly Jeans” on the human cost of sandblasting in the jeans industry in Turkey, one of the world’s biggest exporters of jeans. Before being diagnosed with silicosis, an incurable and often deadly pulmonary disease, Mehmet sandblasted jeans in workshops in Istanbul. He ives with his extended family in the working class neighborhood of Gaziosmanpaşa in Istanbul. Like many who ended up working in the sandblasting industry in Istanbul, the family came from a poor region in eastern Turkey looking for work. Mehmet spends most of his days in bed, often in the company of his nephew Faruk. He suffers from a severe shortness of breath and oxygen therapy facilitates his breathing. Since being diagnosed with silicosis seven years ago, Mehmet’s medical condition has steadily deteriorated.”

“The sandblasting technique is used to give jeans a worn look. Workers use compressors to blow under high pressure sand at jeans. In Turkey the practice was widespread until banned in 2009 when doctors diagnosed silicosis in former textile workers. Although the danger of silicosis has been known for a long time, especially in the mining industry, Turkey was the first country where textile workers were diagnosed with the disease. Until now approximately 60 persons have died and about 1200 have been diagnosed with silicosis. But medical experts fear that more than 5,000 persons are affected in Turkey.”

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