Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Acid Attack Survivors Remove Veils And Embrace Their Scars In New Fashion Photoshoot

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Young Indian women who are acid attack survivors have spent years hiding their faces but now, they have cast off their shame and pain to appear with smiling faces in a new photoshoot by Rahul Saharan.

Rupa, Rita, Laximi (right to left) have all been the victims of horrendous acid attacks. Rupa, who has just started her own clothing collection, called Rupa Designs, designed the clothes used for the photoshoot.

Rupa, 22, is trying to put the past behind her and look to a brighter future. She says;

'I always wanted to be a designer but after the attack there was a pause in my life. I was so insecure and embarrassed by my scars I used to cover my face with a scarf. I always hung onto my dream but I never knew that one day it would be possible and I would be launching my own label.'

These young women are trying to show their attackers they will no longer hide their faces and that they deserve to live a life of dignity.

Rupa, who dropped her surname after she disowned her father for supporting her stepmother after she attacked her with acid, teamed up with a charity campaign Stop Acid Attacks and decided to fight for justice for herself and other acid attack fighters.

Stop Acid Attacks work extensively with acid attack survivors, helping them back into society and bolstering their self-esteem.

They have also created Chhaon, a support centre for acid attack survivors. It's a clean, safe and comfortable environment for them to spend time in while they receive medical aid. Chhaon has also become a meeting house for all survivors where they chat, sing, dance - and laugh.

Rupa was asleep in August 2008 when her stepmother threw acid on her face. She was found guilty and sentenced to prison but India's poor judicial system has meant she is now free and living her life with no signs of remorse after serving just 18 months.

Rupa said: 'Chhaon has helped me feel confident again and believe in myself. I have always loved fashion and tailoring but I never thought I could start my own label. This is the first time I have presented my clothes and I am glad to see them being appreciated. '

The charity asked photographer Rahul Saharan to get involved and together helped the girls feel confident enough to be photographed.

'It was a wonderful shoot. I'm a very shy girl, but Rahul made it easy and comfortable for us all to face the camera with pride,' Rupa added.

Rahul, 24, from Delhi, is overwhelmed with the response to his work. He said: 'I have been associated with Chhaon for the last two-and-half years but this is the first time I feel like I've put my skills to good use to help these lovely girls. I feel blessed to have got this exclusive opportunity.'

Rahul, who worked free of cost for the shoot, added: 'I kept telling the girls "don't let others tell you what beauty is, you yourself are beautiful, every woman is beautiful".'

He is now hoping to organize a photo exhibition to help the acid attack survivors with the proceeds.

'This photo shoot is my tribute to all the brave women across the globe who have gone through this gruesome torture. I'm glad that I could do my part in supporting them,' he added.

Rupa has already sold three orders to a US tourist for Rs 1,500 (around £15) and has got an order from an Indian businesswoman for a traditional dress.

'I just hope the orders come in, it would be a dream come true to make this my work. The last six years have been tough so if I can set up my own boutique and work towards becoming financially independent then anyone can. I never imagined my dreams could come true but now I believe anything is possible.'

To support these girls please visit

And to get involved with Rupa's designs visit:

Watch their project video


It was none other than her stepmother who poured acid on Rupa while she slept in her native village in Uttar Pradesh.

It is difficult to imagine her pain when Rupa narrates how she suffered living with her stepmother after her mother's demise when she was a kid. She was physically and mentally abused and lived in constant fear. And then, one night, her stepmother poured acid on her and left her without any first aid for 6 hours until her uncle reached and took her to a nearby hospital.

That was 6 years ago.

Today, she works with Stop Acid Attacks' team to fight for justice for herself and other acid attack fighters. Along with fellow acid attack fighter, Laxmi, she helped organise acid attack fighters from all over India and mobilise a campaign which helped ban open sale of acid and bring the issue of Acid Attacks to the forefront in India.

Even though the fight will continue for her, Rupa now wants to make her childhood dream come true. She always loved stitching clothes and wanted to be a designer. She wants to set up her own boutique now and work towards becoming financially independent.

Our Goal is to rent a shop for Rupa in a decent locality in Delhi which Rupa can decorate as her boutique. We want to also provide her with the initial capital for her shop so that she can buy the equipment and employ other acid attack survivors to work with her.

Acid attacks are a by-product of a certain societal mindset and together we can eliminate this social evil from it's roots. Let's come together to make sure that this heinous crime does not become a hindrance in someone's life.

Via: Daily Mail

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