Karl Mancini is an Italian documentary photographer based in Rome and Buenos Aires. He studied photojournalism in New York at the ICP. Since 2001 he has worked in more than 90 countries following socio-historical and political events and focusing on issues such as gender violence, the aftermath of wars, human rights and immigration. His works have been exhibited in the USA, Britain, Russia, Australia, India, Japan, Italy, Spain, Canada, Greece, Switzerland and at many international festivals and prestigious competitions. He collaborates with international non-government organizations and his stories have appeared in different magazines, newspapers and media: Newsweek, Stern Magazine, Marie Claire, Vanity Fair, Der Spiegel, CNN and many others. He is currently working on a project about violence against women.
Women of Artsakh
On the night of April 2nd, 2016, Azeri forces attacked all along the contact line the border with Nagorny Karabakh (NKR), reopening in effect a conflict that was never officially closed. The clash was dubbed the Four Days War. In 1991 Karabakh after a referendum declared itself independent of Azerbaijan, claiming an Armenian identity of all its inhabitants. This sparked off a war that would go on for four years and leave behind thousands of dead. Today despite official denials hostilities continue and new casualties are recorded almost every day for both sides' armies.
The truth is that every woman in Karabakh or Artsakh (its name in the local language) has in the family a brother, a father or a son who is a professional military man or who lately joined the army. Many families are in the military entirely. Relatives wait anxiously for their return, yet it is thanks to their contribution that life in the country is able to move forward. Many of these people hold important positions in the government and make decisions crucial to the future of this part of the world tucked away in the mountains of the Caucasus. From a simple family mother to the minister of culture and youth affairs, from a common employee in a beauty parlor to assistant to the head of the supreme court, women are the soul of Karabakh, the strength of this country, and in some ministries account for 80% of staff. They dream of independence and peace to build a different future for their children. They love intensely, fight tenaciously, often suffer in silence, and believe in their traditions. They are brave and fragile. This is their story.
Stepanakert, NKR. A woman dances with fresh wind in her hair.
Angelina Zaqaryan, born in 1997, is a professional dancer who studied at the College of the Dancing Arts. Here she is shown kissing her little brother, dressed in the military fashion. She has many relatives in the army. After the Four Days War most of the art exhibitions have been commemorative or linked to anniversaries of the events.
Maro Petrosyan (63) with her daughter Liana Mkrtumyan (37), a mother of five, live in Akhtamar Hotel together with other 127 displaced families from the villages destroyed during the Four Days War. She came with her family from Martakert, a city badly damaged by Azerbaijani shelling. They live at the hotel with Maro's other son, Samvel Mkrtumyan (33) and the wife of his brother Narine Bejanyan (27), a mother of four (with a newborn baby). The husbands of Liana and Narine are now conscripted. Stepanakert, NKR.
Ellada Dadayan (35) cries for the loss of her husband, Lieutenant Colonel Aram Arushanyan (born in 1972), a veteran of the Karabakh War, killed on the night of April 25/26th. She has four children: Varduhi (13), Ara (11), Meri (10) and Aren (5). They come from Haterk village in the region of Martakert and now live at Akhtamar Hotel. "My husband never lied to me. That night he promised me that he would return to me and our children... We were not even invited to identify the body, he was obliterated. All that remains of the man are just medals and a packet the government sent us with torn money, scraps of his passport and a lighter that he did not use to smoke but only for lighting." Stepanakert, NKR.
A woman just gave birth at the maternity hospital. Stepanakert, NKR.
Young girls from a local private school visiting the Tatik&Papik national monument, also known as "We Are Our Mountains" and representing the Armenian heritage of Nagorny Karabakh. Stepanakert, NKR.
The HALO trust's 1st team of female minesweepers, formed in July of 2015. The team is locally recruited, all of the five women are from the Kashatag region of NKR. Vardanush Asaturova (30), Maya Baghdasaryan (40), whose son is serving a two-year term in the army, Varditer Shaboyan (23) with 11 siblings in her family - and the 12th is on the way, Marina Barseghyan (38), a mother of six, Christina Khachatryan (36). They work in the minefields 6 days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Land mines were used extensively during the 1992-1994 war, as were large amounts of cluster munitions and other kinds of explosive ordnance. Since the war's end in 1994 328 people have been killed or maimed by land mines and unexploded bombs. On April 6th, 2016 Azerbaijan dropped several cluster bombs (made in Israel) on civilian targets. The Corridor of Lachin, Kashatag region, Vaghazin village area, NKR.
Anna Ghukasyan (31). As a child Anna took martial arts classes and earned a black belt in sanda wushu. She always dreamed about becoming an army girl. During the Artsakh war of the 1990's bullets and gunpowder were her favourite toys. She would collect bullets and try to make explosives from gunpowder. Anna went on to study journalism and worked as a military reporter, always on the frontline and never leaving to pursue her dream of professional military service. Finally she signed a contract - just before the April war. Anna's father was a freedom fighter in the Artakh War and her uncle a victim of the war. Anna's brother has a professional military education and is in the Armenian Armed Forces. She now serves under a contract. Shushi, NKR.
Aneta Hambardzumyan (25) stands outside a structure ravaged by heavy Azeri shelling. Aneta is a journalist and works at the office building of the President of NKR. She once aspired to cover social issues on TV, not politics of her country. The new war ignired her patriotic sentiment and she started supporting soldiers on the frontline. Her father is a professional soldier who drives vehicles carrying tanks, her brother is also in the army. Aneta has a sister as well and she is worried and afraid for her family because the current situation in the country. Shushi, NKR.
The military gymnasium Khristofor Ivanyan. Female cadets during their daily lessons. They are two out of the 16 women who are allowed to attend the Military Academy, formerly a school solely for boys aged 13-17 years. After 2016 many requests for admission for women have had an effect. Female students must come home at night, though, and they get to attend courses and training only 3 times a week. Stepanakert, NKR.
A group of teachers returning to their houses after work. 85% of teachers at primary and secondary schools in Karabakh are women. Many of the schools and kindergartens of villages along the front line were devastated in the recent fighting. Martakert region, NKR.
A refugee camp for relocated civilians from the border village Tallish, destroyed in the 2016 war. Inside the house of a mother of three. Her husband is in the army in what remains of Tallish. Alashan, Martakert region, NKR.
Mariam Arushanyan (23), Suzanna Asryan (25), Lidia Ghulyan (25), Gayane Babayan (27), Inna Babayan (27) and Gayane Sargsyan (25) during a break in the courtyard of the central police station of the city. They are professional police officers and work full-time 6-day weeks. A large portion of office personnel in the state police are female. Many of them are married to soldiers or have relatives in the army. Stepanakert, NKR.
Hripsime Aslanyan inside her house with 2 of her 3 children (twins). She works in the local municipal office but is currently on maternity leave. Her husband Artsakh Sargsyan is an officer. Madagis was one of the villages heavily bombed during the 2016 war. Artak fought on the frontline, the rest of the family was displaced to the capital after the bombs fell on their house. Madagis village, Martakert region, NKR.
Sofia Petrosyan (17) studies at the Stepanakert College of the Dancing Arts. As one of the Colllege's best students Sofia has an opportunity for instruction at the Yerevan State Institute of Theatre and Cinematography, taking film direction courses for free. But this prospect does not inspire her - she has dreamt of becoming an actress since her early childhood. Stepanakert, NKR.