Portraiture encourages pride in a marginalised Bangladeshi community

Photographer Samsul Alam Helal’s portraits depict Bangladesh’s oppressed Dalit community.

Dhaka-based photographer Samsul Alam Helal created the photo series “Open Stage” to explore the Dalit Community of old Dhaka, a people ignored and neglected because of their status cleaners, labourers or manual workers.

Through a series of images, Helal explores the extent to which the Dalit community is discriminated against on the basis of caste, an ancient but prevalent form of social stratification.

According to reports in the media, the Dalit community has for centuries been shunned by the mainstream population and denied basic human rights. In a temporary studio, Helal photographs people of Dalit community who are now seeking recognition for years of hard labour.

An article on Feature Shoot reports that Helal has gifted some of the community members with large prints of their portraits to encourage pride and empowerment. Some of the pictures were also shown at Dhaka Art Summit 2016.