By Rachael Steven

The violent act of acid throwing is primarily against women and children.  These attacks are committed with the intent to disfigure, maim and destroy the social life and future of the victim.  The motivation to commit this type of violence is cultural destitution, intolerance and happens in situations such as family conflicts, rejected marriage proposal, revenge and divorce requests. In addition physical and psychological damages, victims are faced with the experience of social stigma ,blame and social unpleasant tags.

The winners of the Sony World Photography Awards were announced last week and winning and shortlisted images are now on show in an exhibition at London’s Somerset House.

Asghar Khamseh, a photojournalist for Iranian news agency Mehr, was named the L’Iris d’Or Photographer of the Year for his powerful portraits of the victims of acid attacks:

Asghar Khamseh, Iran, Winner, Professional, Contemporary Issues

Japanese photographer Kei Nomiyama received the Open Photographer of the Year award and a $5000 prize for his image, Enchanted Bamboo Forest, which captures fireflies circling the sky at night:

Kei Nomiyana, Japan, Winner, Open Competition, Low LightAnd artist and photographer duo RongRong & Inri received the Outstanding Contribution to Photography prize for their influence on visual culture in China:

130983800791803486_Untitled,-2008-No.25Untitled, 2008 No.25, RongRong & inri,

The awards are free to enter and over 230,000 entries were submitted this year from 186 countries – here’s a look at some of our picks from the winning and shortlisted series…

Angelos Tzortzinis’ In Search of the European Dream is a harrowing portrayal of the experiences faced by refugees crossing the Mediterranean in search of a better life in Europe. Shot in October last year, this image shows doctors and paramedics trying to revive a child who was rescued from a boat which sank on the way to the Greek island of Lesbos.

Doctors and paramedics try to revive a baby after boat with refugees and migrants sunk while attempting to reach the Greek island of Lesbos from Turkey, on October 28, 2015. At least five migrants including three children, died on October 28, 2015 after four boats sank between Turkey and Greece.Angelos Tzortzinis, Greece, Winner, Professional, Current Affairs

Maroesjka Lavigne’s Land of Nothingness series documents wildlife in Namibia’s sparse desert:

A country named after a desert. One of the least densely populated places on earth. Defined by its rich variety of colors yet in a forever changing, yet completely barren landscape. Namibia's landscape draws you in, through a vast brown plain of scorched earth, and steers you over the white surface of a salt pan to finally arrive in the gold tones of the sand dunes. Patience is required to discover the wide range of Namibia's subtle scenery. It literally takes you hours, driving though nothing, to at long last arrive at...more of nothing. The sight of other people is rare and only the strategically located gas stations are a reminder of the world beyond. This country is in another time zone—time seems to move slower but it feels more logical, somehow. Captivated by these washed out yet delicately colored landscapes, you can drive for hours. Chaperoned by herds of giraffes or zebras, shadowed by flocks of flamingos, suddenly stumbling upon a family of elephants. The animals look up curiously, but soon forget about you and slowly continue their journey, unhurried by your presence, at their own pace. - Maroesjka LavigneMaroesjka Lavigne, Belgium, Winner, Professional, Landscape

Nikolai Linares’ Second Best features portraits of the runners-up in Copenhagen’s Zealand boxing championships, moments after coming second place:

Portraits of the silver medal winners just after loosing their final at the Zealand boxing Championships held in Copenhagen in March.Nikolai Linares, Denmark, Winner, Professional , Sport, 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

Kevin Frayer’s Nomadic Life Threatened on the Tibetan Plateau documents the life of Tibetan nomads, who are facing increased political pressure, forced resettlement, climate change and rapid modernisation.

Kevin Frayer, Canada, Winner, Professional, People

Kirsten Schmitt’s Waiting for the Candymen, shot in Cuba, is described as “an allegory of waiting – waiting for the right moment, waiting for tomorrow, waiting for something or someone who brings redemption,” she says.

Kirstin Schmitt, Germany, Winner, Professional,Candid

Andre Burton’s Baltimore Uprising series captures protests in Baltimore in the days following the funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, a black man who died in police custody after being arrested for possessing a switch blade knife, sparking protests throughout the city. In this image, 17-year-old Daquan Green sits on the curb while riot police stand guard near a pharmacy that was set on fire during a riot the day before.

BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 28: Daquan Green, age 17, sits on the curb while riot police stand guard near the CVS pharmacy that was set on fire yesterday during rioting after the funeral of Freddie Gray, on April 28, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.Andrew Burton, United States, Shortlist, Professional , Current Affairs

Alexander Semenov’s Real World Aliens documents the strange creatures found in cold water seas off the coast of Russia:

Alexander Semenov, Russia, Shortlist, Professional Environment

Kevin Frayer’s Eagle Hunters of Western China documents an eagle hunting festival, part of an effort to promote traditional hunting practices in the mountainous region of western China that borders Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia. The training and handling of the large birds of prey follows a strict set of ancient rules that Kazakh eagle hunters are preserving for future generations, says Frayer:

on January 30, 2015 in Xinjiang, China. The Eagle Hunting festival, organised by the local hunting community, is part of an effort to promote and grow traditional hunting practices for new generations in the mountainous region of western China that borders Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia. The training and handling of the large birds of prey follows a strict set of ancient rules that Kazakh eagle hunters are preserving for future generations.Kevin Frayer, Canada, Winner, Professional, Environment, 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

Matthias Hangst’s images captures synchronised swimmers competing at the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia:

KAZAN, RUSSIA - JULY 28: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.) A member of the Spain team competes in the Women's Team Free Synchronised Swimming Preliminary on day four of the 16th FINA World Championships at the Kazan Arena on July 28, 2015 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)Matthias Hangst, Germany, Shortlist, Professional, Sport

Ruben Salgado Escudero’s portraits of Balinese cock fighters depict a popular form of entertainment and an ancient custom in Balinese culture dating back to the 10th century (the death of a rooster leads to ‘tabuh rah’, or spilling of blood, which is used as a sacrifice to appease evil spirits).

(July 24th, 2015) Angga (42) holds his rooster right before a cock fight in Bali, Indonesia. Apart of being a form of entertainment, cock fighting is a very important ancient custom in Balinese culture dating back to the 10th century. The death of a rooster leads to 'tabuh rah' (spilling of blood) which is used as a sacrifice to appease evil spirits. No religious ceremony in a temple may commence until the blood of at least three sabung (roosters) has been spilled on the ground.Ruben Salgado Escudero, Spain, 3rd place, Professional , Portraiture

Francesco Amorosino’s Migrant Tomatoes highlights the dangers of working in Italy’s tomato fields, where 13 people died last year in high temperatures. “Many of those involved in the harvest are immigrants. On the tomatoes, still dirty with soil, bought by my family to make the sauce, I saw the fingerprints of those who had harvested them…. Since then, I haven’t watched the sauce with the same eyes,” he says.

Francesco Amorosino, Italy, Winner, Professional , Still Life, 2016 Sony World Photography Awards/Luz Photo Agency

Khairel Anuar Che Ani’s Too Much Practice captures a group of young girls waiting to perform at the Melasti Festival in Bali, held on the ‘day of silence’. ”

Image was taken in Bali during Melasti Festival. This Festival is conducted once a year in conjunction with Nyepi or Silent Day. These young girls were waiting for their turn to perform. They looked stunning with their bright coloured costumes and heavy make-up on, however the expression on each of the girls' face especially the yawning girl gives this image an extra 'ummpph'.Khairel Anuar Che Ani, Malaysia, Shortlisted, Open Competition, Split Second

Talia Rudofsky’s Nouveau Riche was taken on Promenade de la Croisette, in Cannes:

Taken in Cannes, France 2015. I took this photograph on Promenade de la Croisette, during my summer holiday. Whilst everyone is mostly new wealth, this woman stood out, as she is relatively modest in appearance, and accompanied by a dog, as well as being elderly. I found it amusing how the dog shared the same facial expression as the dog.Talia Rudofsky, United Kingdom, Shortlist, Youth, Portrait

Filippo Venturi’s Made in Korea depicts a quest for aesthetic perfection and a growing use of plastic surgery in the country:

Until the 60s, South Korea was almost a mediaeval country, poor and underdeveloped. After just 50 years, South Korea is now one of the most advanced countries in the world. The rush towards modernity has been fostered by imposing a huge sense of competition and a painstaking effort to reach scolastic, aesthetic and professional perfection. Youngsters grow up by keeping in mind the same ideals and future aims: get the best marks to get the best jobs. At the same time, the aesthetic models are totally conformed, obtained through a massive us of plastic surgery. The Country pushes the young generation towards an alienating standardization, the exact opposite of what happens in Western Countries, where success comes from one's ability to emerge from the mass. The collateral effects of this rapid social, educational, economical, aesthetic and technological evolution“ achieved through high competition and rivalry are psychological outbursts such as social isolation and stress that sometimes bring to alcoholism and suicide (South Korea has one of the highest suicide rates in the world: 43 per day).Filippo Venturi, Italy, 2nd place, People, Professional

Jetmir Idrizi’s TransBrasil series is an ongoing project exploring gender issues and identity:

Jetmir Idrizi, Kosovo, Winner, Professional, Campaign

Alex Ingle’s image, winner of the open competition’s Smile category, shows a young boy jumping on his grandfather’s legs after an Easter meal in a moment of pure joy:

It's Easter, and after a large celebratory meal, a moment's peace is an opportunity for a nap. The youngest member of the Nawrot family, having none of it, climbs onto the sofa and prepares to wake 'Dziadzia Jacek' (his grandfather). This brief moment before jumping on his grandfather's legs is one of pure joy.Alex Ingle, United Kingdom, Winner, Open Competition Smile

Swee Choo Oh’s The Lantern Store was was taken in shop in Hoi An, Vietnam. “I was captivated by this wonderful lady starting her day, peacefully waiting for customers. She was perfectly framed by the store with beautiful morning light illuminating the lanterns, souvenirs and her wonderful character. The overall feel was of an old painting,” explains Choo Oh.

Lantern Store in Hoi An VietnamSwee Choo Oh, Malaysia, Winner, Open Competition, Arts and Culture

Andrej Tarfila’s Church on the fields of Soröko Polje was captured on a November morning in the Slovenian alps, and shows a mist spreading over fields at sunrise:

Church of St. Ursula and power lines on Field of Široko Polje between towns Kranj and medieval Škofja Loka.Andrej Tarfila, Slovenia, Winner, Open Competition Travel

And Filip Wolak’s image shows New York’s Central Park from above on a snowy day, and was taken from 10,000 feet. “The winds were quite strong that day with no haze and unlimited visibility. With a bit of planning (and luck) I was able to capture perfect shadow alignment along the avenues – I had only one chance to capture – they were shifting fast,” he explains.

It was one of those brisk wintery days in March 2015. Everyone was already tired of the long and tough winter here in the north east. Amazed by how clear the day was I took my Cessna above New York's restricted airspace, which gave me a full freedom to roam. The winds were quite strong that day with no haze and unlimited visibility. With a bit of planning (and luck) I was able to capture perfect shadow alignment along the avenues - I had only one chance to capture - they were shifting fast.Filip Wolak, Poland, Winner, Open Competition Architecture

All of this year’s winning and shortlisted images will be exhibited at Somerset House, London until May 8. For details, see

See more winning and shortlisted works, plus the other images in the series featured above at

Read more here:: Sony World Photography Awards 2016