Letter: Exploited by the lens

August 10, 2001

So Richard Boyle, in the review of Regeneration: a Reappraisal of Photography in Ceylon 1850-1900 , considers that photographers of the time "could not have anticipated" that their photographs might today be regarded as examples of the sexual exploitation of local women (Books, THES , July )?

I wonder why not, since the contemporary usage of such images was identical to their use today in Sri Lanka.

On a visit last year, I observed sepia-coloured photographs of partly naked local women being used as decoration in the reception areas and bars of hotels to the obvious embarrassment of the fully clothed female staff.

Further, I note with interest that the book has been published by the British Council, whose Colombo branch was deeply criticised in the opposition press for institutional sexism in its exclusion of female writers from a literary conference.

Your editorial staff could easily have placed in the review text the standard form by which one registers doubt about contemporary accuracy, ie ( sic ). No?

Julia M. Crockett
Leigh-on-Sea

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