Let no one think they cannot make a difference.
Every 6 hours someone is attacked by acid. Although this is an issue commonly associated with South Asia, reports show this is a global phenomenon that overwhelmingly impacts women, and too often these attacks go unreported and unpunished.
One of the issues that facilitates these attacks is the easy access to acid, originally intended for use in industries such as rubber production, jewellery or cotton. Some countries, such as Bangladesh, have tightened regulations of the sale of acid and (along with more severe penalties) they have had some success in reducing the number of attacks.
More than Skin Deep is a series of illustrated poems that raises awareness of the stories behind this horrific act and features the women who have become more than just survivors. Drawing from real life stories of courage and resilience of fifteen women from across the world who faced the horrific act of acid attack in their lives, this art-for-change series aims to challenge stereotypes and incite change.
Some of the achievements include:
- Colombian Natalia Ponce de León’s activism that led to the increase of the maximum sentences to 50 years for acid attacks;
- Resham Khan, aspiring model and social media influencer from the UK, challenged perceptions of beauty;
- and Iranian artist Massoumeh Attaie, who gives art classes to those who are vision impaired, encourages others to gain the confidence to come back into society.
But more needs to be done – governments across the globe need to enforce stricter penalties for acid attacks and prohibit the easy access to acid. In cases where legislation is in place it needs to be more strictly enforced.
These examples of women achieving so much in spite of adversity are amazing to read. And yet the sheer number of people affected by acid attacks can be overwhelming; how can people be so hateful towards each other? In increasingly uncertain times it is easy to lose hope and to believe that individual citizens are unable to make change happen. But as climate advocate Al Gore has observed despair ‘is just another form of denial…we don’t have time for it.’ The women featured in More than Skin Deep overcame so much to make a difference in the world, and working on the project hardened my resolve to work towards positive change, even if it is in small, daily steps.
From March 2019 ArtsPositive publishes a new illustrated poem every month on social media and as a downloadable poster, accompanied by stories that overcome adversity. This series presented by ArtsPositive hopes to create a climate of sensitivity in which it is possible for change to happen.
The above quote is from an interview with Ritah Ssanyu.