Tattoos have been a source of controversy throughout history and around the world, this comes as a result of their gang associations and darker uses throughout time. There have of course been a few more recent occasions when government bodies have made a move against the tattoo and piercing community, sometimes in the interest of the general public.
One of the best known cases of this was in 2012 when the mayor of Osaka, Toru Hashimoto, sent out a survey to some 34,000 public employees requesting information concerning whether or not they had tattoos as well as details of the tattoo, which included information such as when they got the tattoo, where it is located, how big it is, how easily covered it is and a description of the tattoo. A majority of the recipients refused to complete the survey and only 110 of those who actually returned the survey completed admitted to having tattoos.
However, those who did admit to having tattoos could be at risk of losing their jobs as a result. Hashimoto announced that the display of tattoos when operating as a city employee was intimidating to those who attempted to conduct business with those officials and further stated that it was unacceptable for the public to feel intimidated when engaging with their government. This follows an incident whereby complaints were received that a welfare officer had used the display of his tattoos to deliberately intimidate children.
While in America this might be seen as discrimination against those who choose to express themselves by decorating their bodies it has so far been seen as a somewhat reasonable demand of the Japanese government with the only controversy being whether or not it is considered an invasion of privacy to demand information about the body art. However, with new dress codes being put in place for city officials of Japan employees will be required to remove tattoos, keep them covered or find new employment in the private sector.
The general thought is that Hashimoto is particularly sensitive to the tattoos, having come from a rumored Yakuza family. Of course this is a particularly big concern for the Japanese as tattoos are seen particularly as taboo in the country due to the heavy yakuza associations both in the past and even in the present, many of which are violent and threatening offences.
It isn’t just Japan providing limitations in the areas of tattoos however, there are also some changes occurring within the US. Arkansas has passed new legislation targeting scarification and dermal implants within the tattoo and piercing industry to prohibit the two forms of body modification within the state. It is hopes that the prohibition against the two forms of modification will help to prevent them from becoming popular; this is because currently these are two very rarely seen forms of body modification within Arkansas but they are considered the most likely to cause a health risk, which is why the senate has decided to stop them. So far this has been accepted by the tattoo parlours who agreed there was very little market for either scarification or sub dermal implants – the two forms of body modification that are prohibited under the new bill.
Arkansas isn’t the only place making changes to tattoo guidelines as a result of public safety concerns, even the UK has seen the introduction of new guidelines as means of protecting the health and well being of customers. One concern that has been present is that of unlicensed tattoo parlours operating out of homes. Because tattoo machines, needles and inks can easily be bought online and often cheaply people think that a home tattoo is the cost effective alternative to hiring a professional tattooist and paying for a design. Of course when this practice is taken on the home tattooist very rarely takes the time to research proper technique, proper sterilisation or proper aftercare, which leads to infection. The best case scenario is that you’re lucky and get a minor infection and a poor excuse for a tattoo. The worst case scenario is that you contract a blood-bornedisease such as hepatitis or HIV.
The public are strongly urged to use licensed tattooists and parlours and ensure that the conditions the business operates in are sanitary and professional, the premises as well as the artist need to be licensed so if they’re operating out of a kitchen then it probably isn’t what you’re looking for. Such establishments should be reported to the health authority for closure and avoided by any customers.
A slightly more unusual story whereby the law has become involved in the practices of a tattoo parlour involves the mixing of ink. By-laws state that when tattooing the ink must be clean, meaning that it can’t be mixed because the substance with which you mix it may contain materials that createa risk for the client. This is not something everyone has been aware of but it can get you in trouble as one Blackpool based tattoo parlour discovered in mid-August this year. The tattooist mixed the cremated remains of the recently deceased 23-year-old woman with the ink after she died during a routine operation. This was requested by family members who wanted to use her ashes in tattoosthat they would each get in dedication of her memory.
While the parlour has not been charged they have been warned and instructed not to repeat the practice.
Kate is a keen writer who is extremely interested in tattoos and piercing. She currently writes on behalf of Barber DTS a company that supplies tattoo equipment such as the rotary tattoo machine and the Eikon power supply.
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