The form. Stark. Dark. Frozen. A Black Hole. A Void. It hits you in the gut, leaves you with a strange hollowness inside, and makes you gape at it. You hear yourself asking these questions; What is it? Who is she?…You then realize you don’t have the answers.
Sex Trafficking is one of the most horrific, heinous crimes against humanity. And the public grows increasingly desensitized to the plight of millions of girls who are forced into the flesh trade. Technology has only sanctified this apathy. Increased connectivity and access, ironically, has strengthened regressive social norms.
Leena Kejriwal, an artist and a photographer, on a mission to speak up and raise awareness on this grave social issue, built on the power of iconography to engage the public on the issue of child sex trafficking.
In the search, to create a constant reminder for the millions of girls who are going missing every day, the artist, hit upon the simple imagery of the silhouette of a young girl. And thus, the iconic Missing Girl Silhouette was born! It is a sublime distillation of her thoughts, and is a product of intense artistic search, for a visual language, depicting the utter tragedy of the loss of these girls in the dark holes of trafficking.
Silhouettes of young girls set against the sky like black holes cut out into which millions of girls disappear from the face of the earth into the dark world of prostitution. The flowing form brings alive her naivety and her innocence. The pitch-black brings home the fact that she is lost and gone forever. Its ingenuity lies in its simplicity and its evocativeness. It connects the public in a way that words cannot – to pause, to think and to ASK.
The Silhouette was launched to great recognition at the India Art Fair. Realising its potential to create a powerful public dialogue on the issue, Leena then started a guerrilla art movement across the country – and the Missing Silhouette became the Missing Stencil Project. It is a powerful starting point for a public dialogue on the issue and has been called “a silent argument in a public space”, by the international curator, Shaheen Merali.
Today, there are 5000 + stencils across the world. The stencil is a tool for the public to speak up on the issue. A tool for the public to take ownership of the cause. A tool for the public to become spokespersons for the MissingGirls. And to be leaders of a global campaign against sex trafficking! And this leader could be YOU. Would you like to start your own campaign? Get the Missing Stencil! Create it, start a dialogue in your community, and join us in our fight against trafficking!
Step 1: Get the Stencil here.
Step 2: Pick a spot where people will see your stencil. (If it is private property, please take permission).
Step 3: Spray Swiftly and from a distance 10-12 inches to prevent dripping.
Step 4: You can do it by yourself or with your family and friends.
Step 5: Take videos and photos. Share it with the world and don’t forget to tag #missingirls
Congratulations! You’re now officially an ARTIVIST. There is great power in your art.
Sex Trafficking is demand-driven. And the public is the demand maker – the biggest stakeholder in the issue. You can help us change this.
If you are a survivor, parent or guardian who wants to seek help for child sexual abuse, or know someone who might, you can dial 1098 for CHILDLINE (a 24-hour national helpline) or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call NGO Arpan on their helpline 091-98190-86444, for counselling support.