LISA MARIE ASUBONTENG

THE HOLY WOMEN

In 2021, at my grandmother's funeral, I learned about my cousin's experience as a survivor of rape. This inspired me to research and learn from other women and children who have suffered sexual abuse. I had the privilege of listening to the stories 100 remarkable women - survivors of sexual and physical violence in Ghana. Moved by their strength and resilience, I spent the entire year of 2022 researching and learning from women and children who had experienced sexual abuse. 

During my journey, one survivor shared her story with me. "That day it was raining and my mother went to a funeral. I stayed at home and the lights went out. It was dark, and I locked myself in my room to sleep. Suddenly I heard someone entering my room. He grabbed me and raped me. I screamed for help at the top of my lungs, but there was no one around to hear me." Her words echoed in my mind and fueled my determination to create something that would bring light to the dark and often taboo subject of sexual and physical violence in Ghana. 

Sexual and physical violence is still considered a taboo subject in Ghanaian society, and many fear speaking out due to the stigma and shame surrounding these topics. The principles of the three wise monkeys - see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil - are deeply rooted in Ghanaian society, creating a sense of fear and a lack of financial support behind hushed conversations. 

Inspired by these brave survivors, I created "The Holy Women," a series of portraits that celebrate their inner strength, beauty, and resilience. The name "Holy Women" reflects the deep respect and admiration I have for these survivors who have faced unimaginable trauma with dignity and grace.The stigma and shame surrounding sexual violence in Ghanaian society inspired me to showcase the true essence of these women - beautiful, holy, and strong, with dreams and aspirations that are so much greater than their trauma. I aimed to empower these women to share their experiences on their own terms and in their own words. 

The portraits in "The Holy Women" capture the raw power of their stories and offer an unfiltered glimpse into their lives. Through this series, I aim to honor the strength, resilience, and beauty of survivors of sexual and physical violence. It is a tribute to their courage, their faith, and their hope for a better future. May these portraits serve as a reminder that these women are warriors, survivors, and heroes. They deserve to have their voices heard.