‘Poverty Porn’ photos on Instagram cause Uproar in India

The moral decency of an Italian photographer has been questioned over tasteless photographs of poor Indians labelled as ‘poverty porn’.

poverty porn photos india

"Too many have come and done this shameful work in India"

Italian Photographer Alessio Mamo has found himself in hot water after taking photos of impoverished Indians which got labelled as ‘poverty porn’.

The pictures depicted poor Indians posing by a table with “fake food” on it. They were also made to cover their eyes.

Shot in two different Indian states that have very high rates of malnutrition, Alessio Mamo had shot the photos as far back as 2011.

They only went viral when the World Press Photo Foundation (WPPF) decided to share them on Instagram.

The WPPF allowed Alessio Mamo to take control of their account in order to upload the photos.

In the caption underneath the photo, Mamo wrote he “told people to dream about some food they would like to find on the table”.

Further adding “it was a conceptual project about hunger issue in India”.

Continuing on under the caption is a plethora of statistics provided for by Mr. Mamo in regards to the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

Supporters state that the rage caused by the photos lack credence because Alessio was simply highlighting the economic facts about the poverty-stricken Indian states.

Despite being given permission to take control of WPPF’s Instagram account, some are not sure if the pictures were fully vetted.

poverty porn india children

Irrespective of it, both have been found guilty of posting what many perceive as obscene and unacceptable pictures.

In the face of an online backlash, the World Press Photo Foundation issued a statement trying to exonerate themselves, saying:

“Ultimately photographers are responsible for selecting their own work”.

It added, “they were given a set of guidelines to follow.”

Trying to salvage his reputation, Mamo in an email response to a renowned media outlet said:

“Maybe it did not work at all, maybe I did it in the wrong way, but I worked honestly and respectfully with all the people involved”.

poverty porn india children top

The primary focus of his work was to highlight poverty and hunger issues.

Both of which are very prevalent in India, regardless of the monumental economic strides it has made in the previous few decades.

The photographer’s fervent supporters will again refer to worldwide statistics. The Global Hunger Index placed India 100 out of 119 developing countries.

A former editor with the British Journal of Photography let rip over the issue. Olivier Laurant was scathing in his remarks on his Twitter page, saying:

“This was a badly thought concept, one that follows the many ‘here’s all the food a kid eats in a week concept we see all the time. But this one turned exploitative.”

“It rightly should be criticised! The work should never have been produced”.

But it’s the outrage in India that has been the most vociferous.

Hari Adivarekar, a photojournalist from India encapsulated the anger felt in India in an online comment:

“Too many have come and done this shameful work in India and their rewards just open the door for many others to think it’s OK. It isn’t. It’s just inexcusable”.

The public outcry has left both the photographer Alessio Mamo and the World Press Photo Foundation wide open to criticism.

Alessio Mamo has expressed great regret over releasing the photos, saying:

“I’m a human being and I can make mistakes. I want to offer my deepest apologies to anyone who felt offended and hurt by my photos”.

Mr. Mamo will be hoping the matter can be drawn to a close.

Haider is an aspiring editor with a passion for current affairs and sports. He's also an avid Liverpool fan and a foodie! His motto is "be easy to love, hard to break and impossible to forget."


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