Around the world, women are considered commodities. Many women's families force them into marriage against their will by selling them, and beautiful, honorable women are thought to fetch a higher bride price. Because women are viewed as property, they have limited rights--a man can do anything to his own property. A brutal form of punishment has left hundreds of women and girls disfigured by acid attacks--a common crime in some countries, committed against women who rebuff admirers, disobey their husbands or even simply attend school. Artist Diane Bush hopes to use her artwork to bring these crimes to light, raise funds from commissions and donate money to Doctors Without Borders as a means of assisting victims of acid attacks worldwide.
I created the photos in this portfolio, titled "Imbleachments" or "Skin", using a new technique which involves applying bleach to a photographic print and watching the corrosive action of the bleach melt away the surface of the print, turning the portrait into a beautiful abstract image. The process and end-result reminded of women who have been blinded and scarred by acid attacks.
Last year in Afghanistan, a group of schoolgirls was attacked with acid. "Are you going to school?" asked one attacker, before pulling away a girl's scarf and pouring battery acid on her face. She and her friends were learning to read in a territory controlled by the Taliban, and are now disfigured for life because of it.
The Afghani schoolgirls are not the only women who have had acid thrown on them due to misogynistic aggression. In India, hundreds of women are victims of acid attacks each year. Additionally, over the past decade, acid attacks have been a commonly reported crime in Pakistan, Cambodia, and Iran. Often, the attacks are rooted in the belief that women are subservient, second-class humans. Attackers are sometimes angry that a woman has rejected their sexual advances, or indignant at the thought of women's economic or sexual independence. Some women are attacked when, after earning money on their own and gaining financial independence, they decide to leave their husbands. The men are rarely prosecuted in these crimes.
In countries with weak economies, women are viewed as property, and as such have limited rights: a man can treat his "property" however he chooses. When a government struggles to provide even the most basic human necessities for its people, situations arise in which certain people dominate others. Children and women in these countries are exploited, taken advantage of and dehumanized. When a woman is seen as property instead of an equal partner in society, horrific crimes like acid attacks are committed. The only answer is education and awareness, so these crimes, and the thinking that leads to them, are forever eliminated.
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