Acid-attack victims group crafts short film to call for change

ASTI aims to highlight the increase in acid attacks in Europe.

Belgian acid-attack survivor Patricia Lefranc is fronting a campaign for the Acid Survivors Trust International to urge legislators in Europe to address the rising instances of people being harmed with the substance.

The film opens with a portrait of Lefranc as she is today, with facial scarring caused by an acid attack in 2009. This is followed by a timelapse showing an artist painting the portrait in reverse. Slowly, the picture transforms into a painting of Lefranc's face before the attack, then the camera pans out to show the real Lefranc, proudly posing with the scars she bears today.

Jaf Shah, executive director at ASTI, said: "What we've seen in the UK over the last three years is approximately a 50% increase in the number of recorded attacks. In 2017, there were 941 attacks across the UK, of which approximately 50% of attacks occurred in London.

"So that means the UK now has the highest recorded number of attacks in the world."

Filmed by production company The Operators Creative, each paint stroke in the portrait is designed to highlight the emotional and physical scarring that acid-attack survivors go through.

Director Ben Le Tourneau, a partner at The Operators Creative, said: "We wanted to use painting as a way of expressively changing between a pre-attack and a post-attack situation. By depicting it in paint, the original picture we wanted to create was a very detailed, very long picture that would take many hours to create. Then, over time, it would be completely manipulated in camera in a very short period of time."

As well as raising awareness, the film also aims to reinforce Lefranc's own campaign to change legislation around the sale of acid. 

Lefranc said: "How many victims will still have to be attacked before it is serious enough to ratify a law to regulate the sale of acid? 

"There would be a rebellion if we began to sell automatic weapons in supermarkets. We should not underestimate just how dangerous acid can be when used as a weapon."

Shah added that the purpose of the campaign is about "trying to bring about legislative change across Europe". He said: "What we've seen in the UK is the government intending to pass a new bill which would introduce controls around the sale of acid: age restrictions and the need for ID.

"What I'd like to see happen in Europe is for the European parliament to adopt a similar approach. Once we've adopted that legislation, I think we'll see a reduction of the number of acid attacks ocurring Europe-wide."

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