The Women of Moria

Charlotte Schmitz

2019 - Ongoing

Mytilíni, North Aegean, Greece

How do you settle in a place that won't let you arrive? What is the concept of beauty in a room without mirrors? How are women feeling in a refugee camp, where they are under constant social supervision? How can they find a private space? And where remains the intimate?

Three years after the "EU-Turkey Agreement", the reception centers for asylum seekers and refugees on the Aegean islands remain overcrowded. On the former military site of Moria on Lesvos, more than 6,000* people live closely together in containers, thin tents and under plastic tarpaulins. In some containers, four families share a space that is made for one family. Their private space remains defined by woolen curtains only. Every cough can be heard. Every nail polish smell detected by the others.

Since the agreement, the refugees have to stay on the island, until their asylum procedure has been completed. Some have been waiting for over two years, to be able to travel onwards to the mainland of Greece. And every day, more people are arriving. 

An intimate and unique look into the private space and daily life of women in Moria. A place, where journalists have limited access since years. Being a woman enabled me to enter easily and the private space of Moria also became my safe space, where I was able to photograph freely, which otherwise is strictly prohibited on the military base.

Beside focusing on migration in my photographic works, one of my fundamental motivations for being a photographer and an artist is that women are misrepresented and underrepresented in almost all forms of media. Art has always been the medium to carry progressive values and social themes, so I focus on gender, sexuality, the situation of women in many of my projects, and that the “the private is political.”

*Currently (October 8th 2019) more than 13.000 are living in Moria, a camp which is made for 3,000 people.

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  • View of the EU hotspot and detention center Moria, Europe's biggest refugee camp.

  • Sedigheh (55) stepped more than 20 years ago on a Taliban landmine and lost her feet. She fled with her family to Iran and lives in Moria since more than five month.

  • Sedigheh (55) stepped more than 20 years ago on a Taliban landmine and lost her feet. She fled with her family to Iran and lives in Moria since more than five month.

  • Pile of blankets of one family of five persons, who are living on a five square metres area.

  • L: The containers are divided with grey blankets for each family, their spaces are often only a few squaremetres and don't provide any privacy.
    R: Fatima (11)

  • We are all made of stars

  • L: Nouryeh Akhlaqi (24) and her daughter Yasemin
    R: Negena (16)

  • Yasemin (18) with her make-up

  • A young woman (18) from Afghanistan covering her face.

  • A women making food at home, using an emergency blanket as a cover for the floor.

  • Improvised cooking area

  • Camp food, for which people have to stand in line for hours.

  • Mother and her newborn

  • L: Rihana's doll
    R: Rihana has been in Moria with her husband and two children since six month.

  • L: Sonya decorated the wall with her make up and soft toys.
    R: Sonya (19) applying nail polish on her nails.

  • Soman (10) with her doll

  • Praying

  • Rehab from Sudan

  • Fatameh (15) in her self built home