Most of us can barely fathom what many innocent Indian women have had to suffer as victims of rape in a country where it happens so frequently that it has become the second most dangerous place to live in for women.
Another issue in India, one much less commonly addressed, is the approximately 1,000 women who are attacked with acid every year. In most cases, while the victims of the attacks do not die, they are forced to live with the memories of the attack, along with the disfiguring scars, for the rest of their lives. As cruel and inhumane as the heinous crime is, however, there are unfortunately no specific laws against acid attacks within the Indian judicial system.
Twenty-two-year-old Rupa is one of these victims. In 2008, Rupa’s stepmother and four men attacked her with acid while she was sleeping. The resulting scars were so extensive it became a hindrance when she tried to apply for jobs. Of course, she was discouraged at first, but she didn’t let her scars get to her. In fact, she joined the charity campaign group Stop Acid Attacks and has been working with other survivors of acid attack the last few years.
And she didn’t just stop there. Rupa, who has always had a lifelong dream of designing clothes, recently launched her own clothing line called Rupa Designs. With the help of Indian photographer Rahul Saharan, Rupa even modeled the clothes from the line in a gorgeous photo shoot, along with four of her friends — Rita, Sonam, Laxmi and Chanchal — all of whom are also acid attack survivors.
Saharan, who shot the photos of the women for free, has stated that these photos are “a tribute to all the brave women across the globe who have gone through this gruesome torture.” He is now working on a photo exhibition, the proceeds from which will go to help survivors.
“I have been associated with Chhaon (meeting house for suvivors) for the last two-and-a-half years, but this is the first time I feel like I’ve put my skills to good use to help these lovely girls,” he said in an interview. “I feel blessed to have got this exclusive opportunity.”
Photos courtesy of New York Daily News.