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Photo Essay: Women and War

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Posted on Aug 22, 2012
Marissa Roth

By Marissa Roth

Editor’s note: For nearly three decades, Marissa Roth traveled from one war zone to another to capture images of the impact of war on women. Her project is called “One Person Crying: Women and War,” and is on exhibit at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles through Oct. 18.

“One Person Crying: Women and War,” is a 28-year, global photo essay that addresses the immediate and lingering effects of war on women. I undertook this personal project in an endeavor to reflect on war from what I consider to be an underreported perspective. It brought me face to face with hundreds of women who have endured and survived war and its ancillary experiences of loss, pain and unimaginable hardship. I traveled the world photographing, interviewing and writing down their war histories, capturing gestures and noting gruesome details, in order to document how their lives were irrevocably changed by this experience. Women are the touchstones for families and communities and are often relied upon to keep everything held together during a war or conflict. Afterwards, there is often no time for them to assess their own traumas, let alone speak of them in order to process the experience. I was compelled to put faces and give voices to the women’s side of war, with no judgment as to which war was worse for its survivors. There is no blood or any guns in the images, just the record of lives lived with a never-ending post-war backdrop. In the journey that became this unexpected odyssey, I was also able to reflect on my family’s war history, and make peace with the profound losses, most notably my paternal grandparents, who were killed in a massacre in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia, in 1942.

Afghan Refugee Women and Children


At the end of the 10-year war between Afghanistan and the USSR, there were an estimated 100,000 Afghan war widows. Countless people were displaced and living in refugee camps along the border in Pakistan, including these women and children. Photographed in Peshawar, Pakistan, September 1988.

Dr. Ilse Kleberger


Dr. Ilse Kleberger was born in Pottsdam and survived World War II in Berlin. She was raped during the siege of Berlin at the end of the war. After the war, she became a prominent physician and the author of 32 books. Berlin, Germany. May 2008.

Beckie Dixon


Beckie Dixon, whose son Christopher, a Marine, was killed in Iraq in August 2005. He had turned 18 just a few months earlier. Photographed on Veterans Day 2005 with Christopher’s memorial flag in Columbus, Ohio.

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