‘Ruby’ … Her Story … Her images …

Thanks to the brilliant explosive but so so sad comprehensive three part story penned by journalist Kristin Shorten, I’ve in the past few days had an exceptional run in The Australian three editions in a row with several different portraits of ‘Ruby’ … a startlingly brave but severely damaged  twenty one year old indigenous mother from the remote Northern Territory community of Yuendumu.

Over three front pages over three days and several more inside, Kristin tells in graphic horrific and ultimately the saddest detail, the story of ‘Ruby’ (not her real name), her multiple rapes at the hands of her father, the violence that is endemic in her NT community … and the aftermath of that violence as she fled to the relative safety of Cairns. For ‘Ruby’ that was indeed ‘relative’ as she found herself in jail and separated from her one year old son.

‘Ruby’ … who not surprisingly has difficulty trusting anyone … was charming to portray and, eventually, to talk to.

An aspiring artist, ‘Ruby’ uses her art to forget her brutal past. Sincerely hope her art thrives and the story of her future with her son is much brighter.

Huge thanks and a pleasure to be a part of Kristin’s fabulous work on this story that had to be told.

Here are my personal favourite portraits of ‘Ruby’ (from top) and grabs of The Aus page 1 and some of the other pages with my pics. Kristin’s comprehensive harrowing stories and more of my images can be found online … with a subscription … at …







Images © Brian Cassey

Ruby from Yuenemudu - story by Kristin Shorten, images by Brian Cassey

Ruby from Yuenemudu - story by Kristin Shorten, images by Brian Cassey

Ruby from Yuenemudu - story by Kristin Shorten, images by Brian Cassey

Ruby from Yuenemudu - story by Kristin Shorten, images by Brian Cassey

Ruby from Yuenemudu - story by Kristin Shorten, images by Brian Cassey - The Australian

Ruby from Yuenemudu - story by Kristin Shorten, images by Brian Cassey - The Australian

Ruby from Yuenemudu - story by Kristin Shorten, images by Brian Cassey - The Australian



“Victims of Sorcery” … PNG …

Spent a few days … not near enough … with legendary News Ltd journo Cindy Wockner in Goroka in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea working on a story for News360 on victims of sorcery.

Variously named as ‘Sanguma’, ‘Poison’ and other local monikers … sorcery related violence has exploded in PNG in recent years. There is little evidence that the phenomena has a long history. It appears that the crimes are opportunistic using vicious attacks and, indeed, murder … and an accusation of sorcery is a convenient weapon against the vulnerable. Once the victim is tainted with a sorcery accusation the stigma generally lasts for life. Families of those accused also suffer the consequences.

We spoke to and photographed more than a dozen, girls and women, boys and men, who had experienced attacks at the hands of sorcery accusers … but none were as graphic and heart rending as the story we heard (through an interpreter) from sisters Dorcas Numbi Nunugi and Pita Ambane. They and Dorcas’s son Ari were accused of sorcery after a family member died. Dorcas was attacked with an axe and her arm almost severed. She received other axe wounds on her thigh and head. Then she was tortured with iron bars that had been heated in a fire leaving massive scars on her torso and legs.

Her sister suffered a fractured skull from an axe blow to the head and other injuries … but somehow they escaped alive.

Many don’t … their bodies thrown in the river or any convenient hole.

Needless to say, Cindy’s story is compelling reading … but not easy to find … the link is here … www.couriermail.com.au/news/world/evil-sorcery-and-witchcraft-killings-exposed-in-papua-new-guinea-as-victims-flee-villages/news-story/3d7153f581a3f0a7b5ca63bc8a99ead0 … but as it’s ‘Premium’ content it may be inaccessible behind the paywall (alternatively subscribe to the Courier, read, see the pics and watch the accompanying video on your iPad or other device 🙂 )

However … you CAN read Cindy’s story … “Evil Sorcery and Witchcraft Killings Exposed in Papua New Guinea as Victims Flee Villages” … here below.

I’ve also posted (below) … just a few of the images I made whilst covering the story … and have concentrated here on those of Dorcas and her sister Pita recovering from their attacks in a ‘safe house’ in Goroka. I will eventually post a full pic essay on “Victims of Sorcery”.

Images © Brian Cassey


"Victims of Sorcery" - PNG - images by Brian Cassey

"Victims of Sorcery" - PNG - images by Brian Cassey

"Victims of Sorcery" - PNG - images by Brian Cassey

"Victims of Sorcery" - PNG - images by Brian Cassey

Sorcery in PNG - "Victims of Sorcery" - News Ltd photos by Brian Cassey

Betel Ban – Words and Pics in SMH …

Making Images is one thing … but putting words together is a little more problematic.

So, I’m more than a little gratified that the Sydney Morning Herald has today published my 1000 word story “Chewing Over a Betel Ban” (and three pics) on page 8 of their News Review section. They are also running the story online and an accompanying pic gallery of seventeen images.

The story and images are the result of a recent (self funded) visit to Papua New Guinea to document the story of the just imposed ban on the sale and public use of the habitual carcinogenic betel nut – or ‘buai’ as it is called locally. The social implications of the ban and it’s effect on the betel nut trade that is a bread winner for a massive proportion of PNG residents will be immense.

The results of my journalistic torment can be found here in the SMH at http://www.smh.com.au/world/chewing-over-a-betel-ban-20131108-2x6ra.html … and the image gallery here at http://www.smh.com.au/photogallery/world/the-betel-nut-20131108-2x6hb.html (update: unfortunately SMH have now – as at Oct 2015 – removed these.)

The complete essay of 27 images on the betel nut story can be found on my website at https://www.briancasseyphotographer.com/photographs/betel-nut-ban-png/ and on the web site of the  ‘fotostrada’ collective at http://www.fotostrada.com/brian-cassey/betel-nut-ban-hard-to-chew/BCBetelNut12/

Below is a screen grab of the SMH story as published on the printed paper page.

Images/Words © Brian Cassey


PNG Ban Hard to Chew …

Have now posted a new pic essay made during a recent visit to Papua New Guinea to “Latest Stories” on the web site of our collective ‘fotostrada’. The essay is entitled “Betel Nut Ban Hard to Chew” and it documents in pics (and words) the curious situation following the contentious imposition of a ban by the city of Port Moresby on the sale or public use of the traditional, natural but carcinogenic stimulant betel nut – known locally as ‘buai’.  The city cites the expense of the constant clean up of the bright red betel nut spittle stains and husk refuse and a concern for citizens health as the reason for the ban. (Betel nut use has been linked to mouth and other cancers and the spread of tuberculosis).

However, the betel nut trade is lucrative and large – and an entire underclass of PNG residents derive their total income from ‘buai’ sales.  Tensions are running high with opponents of the ban predicting social unrest, an increase in crime and prostitution (and therefore AIDS) and a break down in law and order.

The images were made at local markets (at least at those still allowed to sell betel nut until a November 1st deadline), at sellers and users communities and homes – and in Port Moresby city centre where ‘Rangers’ now search the streets for elicit ‘buai’.

Am hoping for a publication of the images and a comprehensive story in the next week or so.

Below I’ve posted just two of the images from the set which can be viewed in it’s entirety here at http://www.fotostrada.com/brian-cassey/betel-nut-ban-hard-to-chew/BCBetelNut12/

Images © Brian Cassey 2013



Life in a Coffin – Hong Kong

This presentation was chosen as the Winner of the Nikon Walkley Photographers Slide Night at the Powerhouse in Brisbane on 7th August 2012. It depicts, in still images and a beautiful musical piece, the current plight of the poor in Hong Kong – acknowledged as the Worlds richest city.

Words and Images © Brian Cassey

Life in a Coffin …

The second pic essay from my recent trip to Hong Kong … “Life in a Coffin – Hong Kong” has been posted to the web site of my collective ‘fotostrada’.

The pics – along with 1800 words – portray the situation of the poor of the former British Colony in the lowest cost housing alternatives of ‘coffin’ homes, bed space cage homes, wire cage homes, illegal rooftop shanties and illegal cubicles in old factories and industrial buildings. Although these still cost the residents more per square foot than the most expensive of Hong Kong’s luxury apartments, for the unfortunate they are just a step away from a life on the street.

The story also attempts to provide some historical perspective to the situation as the number of poor in HK exceeds the twenty percent figure (and the number of billionaires – which currently stands at 36 – continues to grow.)

The new essay can be found on ‘fotostrada’ in “Latest Stories” here … and will be posted to my personal site when time permits …

… whilst my older essay on the Hong Kong cage home dwellers – “Cage Dogs” – can be found on my web site here and on ‘fotostrada’ here.

Below I’ve posted a small selection of the many images from “Life in a Coffin – Hong Kong”.

© images Brian Cassey 2012