Thursday, 29 December 2016

Revisiting year 2016 - Fashion now has new faces - Acid attack survivors

Acid attacks on women happen all over the world. They are brutal in a peculiar sense because the attacker aims not to kill the victim but to disfigure her and kill her soul. Attackers indulge in this frightful crime and force the victim to live a life of suffering if she survives. In our country, the cases stand out despite the existence of laws and directives to prevent the horrific crime. Even cases involving throwing acid have been on the rise. And here attacks follow a pattern.In an analysis of cases, it has been found that 35% of the incidents cited rejection of marriage or refusal by women.Acid attacks not only physically hurt victims but bring a social isolation that compounds the trauma. However, in this year 2016, I came to read many of the acid attack survivor’s stories which are so powerful and inspiring.


I never heard or had seen how those women face the challenges of their further life which are full of hatred and criticism. But in this year 2016, I found many such women who are crossing barriers and proving themselves no different than a normal woman. They are even setting themselves as role models for others to follow and adore. Today I very well know activist Laxmi who works for the welfare of acid attack victims. At the age of 15 years, a 32-year-old man came up to Laxmi on the street and threw acid on her face for rejecting his offer of marriage. Rather than let it defeat her, Laxmi became an influence peddler inspiring other women who underwent a similar ordeal. Laxmi received a 2014 International Women of Courage award by US First Lady Michelle Obama. In January this year, I read about the campaign ‘Face of Courage’ by fashion Brand Viva N Diva. They signed on Laxmi to be the new face for their designer outfits. Then another example came. Reshma Qureshi, an acid attack survivor, walked the ramp at the New York Fashion Week in September this year. Reshma's life changed drastically in 2014 when, during a visit to her hometown in Uttar Pradesh, her brother-in-law, and his friends threw acid on her face. Reshma's brother-in-law mistook her for her elder sister since both of them were wearing burqas, and that's how the attack took place. Reshma went into depression after this. However, things started taking a turn for the better when Reshma met Ria Sharma, the founder of Make Love Not Scars, an NGO that started the #EndAcidSale movement in India. Reshma became the ambassador of this #EndAcidSale campaign.


There are many photo shoots happening in our country featuring the acid attack victims. Instead of taking professional models professional photographers are taking these beautiful girls as models because they actually define beauty, courage, positivity. So I feel in this year 2016, more and more acid attack survivors came forwards and inspired the world with their fighting spirit and positivity. When these girls say that “their face mirror society”, I feel so pain and so anger. Pain for those victims who, despite going through plenty of operations and surgeries, are still struggling to get their charm back. And anger for those losers who get mad and throw acid only because they are rejected by a woman. Why these accidents happen, why acid is openly available and why anyone has the courage to attempt such a brutal crime are only some of the questions that can be debated for long. But I love that in this year 2016 many of the acid attack survivors gave thumbs down to the people who hate them and abhor them. 

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