Upon graduating with a bachelor's degree in painting a few years back, Heba Khamis decided to veer off course and pursue a career in photojournalism instead. She started off with a job in an Egyptian newspaper, before deciding to volunteer with her expertise in Uganda. Humanitarian and social issue quickly became the focus of her work, with her 2016 project, Banned Beauty, snagging the first prize at the prestigious World Press Photo competition last week.

Banned Beauty is a photojournalistic project on the practice of "breast ironing" in Cameroon, in which young girls have their breasts massaged or pressed by their elderly in hopes to delay breast development and help the pubescent girls avoid rape, which is predominant in the Central African republic."Mothers explain that the painful procedure is an act of love, to make sure their daughters don’t get pregnant and miss out on school or jobs," read World Press Photo's announcement of the project's win. The techniques of the practice differ from one area to another, with some elderly binding their daughters' breasts with tight belts, and others pressing against the breasts with heated grinding stones or pestles. It is estimated that 25% of Cameroonian girls are subjected to the painful practice.  

World Press Photo Foundation is an independent NGO established in 1955 to encourage unrestricted exchange of knowledge and information in addition to upping the standards of visual journalism. Its annual Press Photography Contest is widely regarded as the world's most prestigious contest in the field. Since 2011, the reputable foundation joined forces with Human Rights Watch and the Tim Hetherington Grant to launch the aforementioned competition won by Khamis.

Check out the project:

Look at the full project here