In Egypt, discrimination based on skin color results in thousands being subjected to intense bullying on the street, in the job market and in nearly every aspect of public life. Two art directors in Egypt want to change that.
Adel Essam and Henar Sherif, founders of OArtStudio, a non-profit organization that tackles social issues with art, recently released a photo series titled "No Color" to fight the stereotyping and discrimination that dark-skinned Egyptian women in specific encounter in their daily lives.
"Hurtful words are dark, but humans are of no color, it's about time to drown the wrong standards of beauty," the project's description on Facebook reads.
The shooting took place in the Miami area of Alexandria inside the water "to add a deeper, insightful perspective" to the photo series.
How did the project start?
It all started when Maha Mohammed, the project manager and head of the campaign, decided to shed light on the struggles that dark-skinned women face in Egypt.
Mohammed then took the project a step further by getting in touch with 25 women to listen to their stories.
"We listened to some shocking stories of girls who have been abused by their own parents because of their dark skin, a girl who was fired from her work because she cannot represent a big company, a girl who had to break up with her fiancé because his family doesn’t approve of her outer appearance, and many other heartbreaking stories that can hardly be believed," Essam told Daily News Egypt.
The project invites all those with a story to share theirs via the hashtag #Project_No_Color.
StepFeed got in touch with Adel Essam, but we haven't heard back yet.
Skin color discrimination has been around for a long time now in Egypt.
In 2014, the new Egyptian constitution introduced an anti-discriminatory bill prohibiting discrimination based on color, religion, belief, gender, race, language, disability and social class.
However, the law does not criminalize racial discrimination, according to Al Araby.
This is why this project is of utmost importance.
Women standing together against discrimination
Bold and fierce in the face of it all
Gazing into the blue
Washing away the hate
"In the street, people call you different names if you are black, like chocalata or samara," Mamado Hawary, a Sudanese-Egyptian living in Cairo, once told Al Araby.
It's not just the name-calling.
In 2007, Fatma Emam, a young Egyptian Nubian, founded the blog Brownie to speak out against racism in Egypt.
"I feel vulnerable on my own. For example, going through airport security, I am usually subjected to more security checks than others," she told Al Araby at the time.
"In school, other kids used to take me to the fountain and try to wash the black color off of my skin," she added.
But, it's not just verbal harassment. It's gone as far as refusing someone service for being dark skinned.
In 2013, Egyptian filmmaker Nada Zatouna was visiting a pharmacy in Cairo when she was refused service because of her skin color.
"I don't take anything from people who are not white," the pharmacist told her, according to an article in Al Araby.