Story By: Koen Berghuis, Sub-Editor: Michael Leidig, Agency:Central European News
Picture Credit: CEN/Glamoria
Amnesty International has been accused of sexualising the refugee crisis after launching a glossy magazine with a sexy model on top of a pile of life jackets on the cover.
The magazine, Glamoria, launched in the Netherlands to highlight the plight of refugees, was intended as a satirical version of a glossy lifestyle magazine.
Amnesty has now withdrawn the photograph, and replaced it with a less controversial image, following criticism from media commentators and refugees.
Glamoria focuses on the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, with the title being a portmanteau of the words ‘glamour’ and ‘Moria’.
It also features satirical adverts for products such as the ‘Moriamoller’, a pyjama poncho aimed at refugees with leaking tents, and other “winter must-haves” like sheets of cardboard to insulate tents against hypothermia.
However, the message seems to have been lost on many viewers who were clearly distracted by the sight of stunning actress, Jouman Fattal, on the cover.
Fattal, who was born in Syria and moved to the Netherlands at the age of four, is seen wearing nothing but two orange life jackets – one around her chest, the other around her waist – and lying in a sexy pose on top of more life jackets.
Lebanese reporter Jenan Moussa, who works for Dubai-based Al Aan TV, blasted the cover as “tasteless”.
She wrote: “AmnestyNL makes an online glossy about refugees and puts on the cover a sensual model, half naked and draped in life jackets in order ‘to reach a broader audience’.
“With thousands dead in the Mediterranean, it’s very disrespectful to sexualise the tragedy of refugees.
“Life jackets are not a fashion statement. They are not sexy. For refugees close to drowning, a life jacket is a matter of life and death.”
Zaid Muhammad, who himself attempted to reach the Greek islands from the south-western Turkish coastal city of Izmir, who was also shocked by the magazine cover.
Muhammad said: “It was summer time in Izmir. However, the weather was very cold at night, so we had to bring some warm clothes with us.
“Unfortunately it was not a great tropical vacation, so our outfit was a little bit different from the one in the photo.”
Amnesty International has apologised for the controversy and withdrawn the cover of the magazine and replaced it with another picture.
A spokesman said: “We have removed the front cover of the magazine. Together with former refugees and activists we made a glossy magazine to draw attention to the sharp contrast between the luxurious lifestyle portrayed in magazines and the terrible situation of people in the camps.
“We apologise for any offence this may have caused. We never intended to offend anyone and regret that the choice for the cover has been a distraction from our ongoing work to end the dire situation for many trapped on the Greek islands.”
The new cover now features Fattal with her clothes on looking through barbed wire straight into the camera.