Facing Brave: Women take on the acid-throwers - Leeds International Festival
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Tuesday 7 May
20:00 - 21:30

Facing Brave: Women take on the acid-throwers

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Reclaiming power for good in the fight against acid attacks one step at a time.

An abuse of power, a desire to mark as your own, a statement of hatred – the violent use of acid is on the up.

But whether it’s a single step or a leap of faith, a quiet detail or an overwhelming call – inspiration and innovation can grow from many places. Facing Brave looks to the people fighting back against this aggressive crime; to those working to empower victims and potential victims alike.

In this lively panel discussion, Bradford doctor Almas Ahmed will share the story of how she chose to confront the scourge of acid attacks by becoming the inventor of the world’s first acid-proof make-up. Women’s Rights expert Danielle Cornish Spencer will give a first-hand account of the international fight against violence against women and girls, and set out some of the global and political challenges of acid-throwing. Skin Scientist Dr. Julie Thornton will explore the scientific challenge of skin burns, drawing on her experience of the Plastic Surgery and Burns Research Unit at the Centre for Skin Sciences, founded following the 1985 Bradford City disaster.

The UK has one of the highest levels of acid attacks in the world – with around two attacks happening every day. Rather than wait for the victims to arrive at A & E (where she currently works), Dr. Ahmed decided to formulate a new, clinically-approved product that would help to take the fear, and the power, away from acid-throwers.

Globally, the violent use of acid as an extreme form of power – often male power, over women and girls – is being tackled by grassroots women’s rights organisations, led by survivors and helped by organisations such as ActionAid. Together, these grassroots organisations are making a real difference to the laws and social norms that allow these attacks to happen. Protecting skin from burns is a challenge. The science behind it is as complex as the organ itself. The internationally-renowned Centre for Skin Sciences has been integrating basic science with applied research for over 30 years to help further understanding of what is needed to defend and repair our skin.

This event is curated by the Thackray Medical Museum, where, on a primary school trip, the young Almas Ahmed was first inspired to become a doctor. The powerful and compelling story of how acid-throwers are being taken on by women globally will show how each of us has the power to imagine, to invent and to transform our world for the better.

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Tuesday 7 May 20:00 - 21:30
Free (ticketed)
L19 Cube @ The Village
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Nat is the Chief Executive of the Thackray Medical Museum. Across 4 decades working in, building and writing about museums, he’s been unlearning what he thought about them for 30 years. Now every day is full of surprises – just how it should be for everyone. He is currently spearheading the redevelopment of the Thackray to become the UK’s most interesting and independently-minded medical museum – so that this remarkable place can continue to ignite remarkable imaginations.

Both a practicing doctor and founder of Acarrier, Almas has created the world’s first acid-proof make-up. A graduate of the prestigious University of Prague medical school, Almas combines her medical practice with inspiring young people locally as well as fundraising for and supporting victims of acid attacks abroad.

Danielle is ActionAid UK’s Senior Technical Advisor on Violence Against Women and Girls. She has 14 years’ worth of experience working on national, regional and global policy and advocacy in Hong Kong, Pakistan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, South Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.

Julie is currently Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences in the School of Chemistry and Biosciences in Bradford, and a Faculty Member of the Centre for Skin Sciences – working with the research unit that was established following the 1985 Bradford City football club fire disaster. Her research is focused primarily on wound healing and ageing.