Yevgeniya Zakhar lives in Ufa, around 720 miles east of Moscow. She’s a tattoo artist who refuses to charge the women on her couch for the body art she creates. Her hours-long work helps her clients to recover from lifelong torment, or spousal abuse, as she covers up the scars that haunt them. Each client has a story to tell and a new life to live, all thanks to this one woman who offers some hope.
In the tattooing industry for 10 years, Zakhar tells her story of helping women as a “tattoo master.” Inspired by a Brazilian tattoo artist, Flavia Carvello, who helped domestic violence victims cover their scars, Zakhar found herself contemplating a similar path.
Over 100 clients later and a further 200 or so booked, Zakhar recounts her decision to help women, to Russia Beyond the Headlines.
“I’ve had letters from all over Bashkiria. Young and old, calm and hysterical, you name it. They’re all united by one thing — pain. They all said that can’t look at their scars because they’re reminded of the day when their beloved man hit them,” Zakhar says.
One client recounts:
“When I was 14 months old, I was scalded with boiling water — 84% body burns and a month in a coma. I can’t have children. In the 1990s I opted for plastic surgery to hide the scarring. This tattoo has changed my life, because now I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. I am who I am.”
Another client recounts how her husband stabbed her with a kitchen knife, rupturing her liver. Although grateful for to the doctors who saved her life, the scar left was “crude and the scars were really big.”
“I didn’t press charges against my husband. He asked to come back. I tried to live with him for a while, but couldn’t. He never admitted his guilt—said he didn’t remember anything and that I must have stabbed myself.”
Each tattoo can cost between 2 and 4 thousand rubles, however, Zakhar prefers to only take payment from those who can afford it. For Zakhar, helping these women heal is more important.
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