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Allison Joyce September 21, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Bangladesh.

From the series Tiger Widow. Harinagar, Bangladesh 2010

Allison Joyce (b. 1987, United States) is a photojournalist currently based in New York City. At 19 she left school at Pratt Institute and moved to Iowa to cover the 2008 Presidential Race where she worked as a campaign photographer for Hillary Clinton. The experience inspired her travels around the world covering social issues like climate change, health, and the sex trade in countries such as Bangladesh, Haiti, India, and the Dominican Republic. As a regular contributor to Reuters and Getty Images her work has appeared worldwide, including: The New York Times, National Geographic, Mother Jones, Virginia Quarterly Review, TIME, Paris Match and Newsweek.

About the Photograph:

“This photo is part of an ongoing project about climate change in the Sundarbans, Bangladesh. The Sundarbans forest in southern Bangladesh is the largest mangrove forest in the world. It has green Sundari trees, rivers, numerous species of birds, deer, crocodiles, snakes, and most famously, the Royal Bengal tiger. Spread across 9,583sq km in the Ganges delta, the Sundarbans is home to 440 tigers, and about 50 to 60 thousand people who depend on land, rivers and forest for their living. As climate changes, hurricanes and cyclones continue to affect the area, the fresh water that once irrigated farmers’ fields has turned salty, rendering the fields useless. A growing number of farmers in Bangladesh’s southern Sundarbans region have now been driven out of their fields and into the region’s mangrove forests to hunt for honey, fish, or to collect crabs, putting them at great risk for a tiger attack. The number of people killed by tiger attacks in the region is steadily rising. In almost every village there is a woman or man, commonly referred to as a “Tiger Widow”, whose spouse has been a victim of a tiger attack. The men usually re-marry within a few months, but the women do not. As most women are wed when they are still children (usually between the age of 9-14) they have virtually no skills outside the home, and end up living a life of poverty, barely able to support their children.”

“Figoja Begum’s husband, Mujiber Rahaman, was killed by a tiger. One afternoon he went honey hunting with four other people. As soon as they found the honey comb a tiger jumped him from behind and he died on the spot. The other men ran to the boat as the tiger was dragging the body away. When Firoja heard the news she fell to the floor crying and lost her mind with grief. Since the attack she is aloof and refuses to talk to anyone about what happened. Her neighbors say that she is half mad. The Sundarbans forest officials have documented more than 1,000 women who have lost their husbands in tiger attacks. Humans and tigers are now fighting for space.”