Make Love Not Scars is an amazing youth initiative based in India that aims to rehabilitate survivors of acid attacks in positive new ways. What initially started off as a platform for victims to share their stories has now grown into an inspiring project to help those who have lived through gender-based violence to start a new life and regain their self-esteem.
One way the scheme does this is through weekly video blogs, and 18-year-old acid attack survivor Reshma has used this media to show us how easy acid is to aquire on the market. Using the theme of a beauty tutorial, Reshma compares the accessbility of acid in India to the act of purchasing a lipstick.
At first the video appears uplifting, with cheery music and chic graphics. The steps are also what you’d expect to find in any other beauty tutorial, until Reshma tells viewers the most important tip: “You’ll find red lipstick available in the market, just like concentrated acid. This is why everyday a girl becomes a victim of an acid attack.”
Ouch, right in the feels!
India has an increasing problem with acid attacks, with an estimated 1000 occuring there each year. Mohammad Jawad, the plastic surgeon who helped to rebuild Katie Piper’s face and works with victims in South Asia, says the crime is about destroying someones identity:
“The attacker is saying: ‘I don’t want to kill her, I am going to do something to distort her.’ It’s a walking dead situation for the victim and often a grey area in the eyes of the law.”
The most common motives for acid attacks are rejecting sexual advances or marriage proposals, and are regular occurances in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Reshma, who is from Mumbai, was attacked by her sister’s estranged husband and some of his friends while on her way to school last May. Reshma’s family believe she was targeted because she was pretty and popular. They threw sulphuric acid on her face, which resulted in the loss of her left eye and severe scarring. She has since managed to raise £6000 through crowdfunding to pay for her treatment.
To sign Reshma’s Make Love Not Scars petition, which aims to prevent such the easy sale of acid in India, click here.