The beautiful etches and carvings of scarification are now seen as something that is primal, unnatural, and not socially acceptable. I don’t believe that scarification should be illegal anywhere. It is so much more than what most people view it as. This art form came from within the Western African countries and is used as a replacement for tattoos for people who have darker pigmented skin. This is because the normal tattoo ink would not turn out to be seen as well and is not as aesthetically pleasing. So, let’s think about it. Scarification is rooted in African culture and tells others things that are important to one’s identity. This is an emotion-filled right of passage within many tribes. It takes precision and time to do these markings. You have to be skilled. It takes a lot of artistic talent to be able to skillfully scarify someone safely. Due to the fact that scarification is for a niche group of people based on skin color, the artists that would be performing the appointment would be from the same group as their clients. This aspect also has a lot of emotional ties for communities because it becomes an art form, ritual, and a way of connection all in one.
Scarification is illegal in the United Kingdom. Do you want to know why? Well, the court ordered that any body modifications that are not tattoos or piercings were considered to be in a different classification. They said that there was no reason that a person should be giving consent to another to do that level of harm to them. Without being able to give consent for the art, that means that in the UK scarification is unfortunately illegal. By outlawing the practice of this art form, it puts minorities out of work and continues to censor African practices. It disproportionately affects the Black communities around the world and keeps people from being able to connect to a culture and traditions that they might find very important for their identity. Now, knowing this, I could argue that this is another art form that has been white washed and censored because of where the practice comes from. There is the Eurocentric influence on art. With the historical relationship between Europe and Africa, it is obvious that this art style is just another outlet in which we see systemic racism at it’s finest.
So, basically what I’m trying to show you all is that there is so much more that is affected behind the scenes. Lives are affected. Communities are left feeling like they are missing a part of their identity without being able to perform these scarifications. This art form also gives the clients the feeling of finding some permanency when getting scarified. Many Black people are left feeling like they are disconnected and floating because they lost the information about their identify during the slave trade. Being able to reconnect to their tribal areas and the techniques of self-identifying themselves is extremely impactful to their lives. Taking away this connection to history and ancestry is ridiculous and should be retried in court.