An acid attack survivor has now become the face of a fashion label in India

Bethan McKernan@mck_beth
Thursday 14 January 2016 17:30
Celebrities

Last year i100 brought you the news of a new clothing label called Rupa Designs in India, started by the victim of an acid attack.

The now 23-year-old designer, Rupa, was attacked by her stepmother in 2008. She dropped her surname after being disowned by her father, who supported his wife over her.

She decided to follow her dream of becoming a designer, even though she said at the time "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".

Rupa asked several fellow attack survivors to model the new range, which was a huge hit.

Left to right: Laxmi, Rita and Rupa

Rupa Label helped open up a conversation about victim blaming and physical beauty.

And now Laxmi Saa, pictured below, has become the face of a major designer saris brand called Viva n Diva.

Ten years ago, when Saa was just 15, she was attacked with acid after refusing an older man's marriage proposal.

While the perpetrator was eventually sent to prison, Saa had to undergo several surgeries to counter the damage the acid had done to her face and arms, which almost bankrupted her family, as well as learn to live with the psychological trauma.

Since then, the BBC reports that Saa has worked tirelessly as an advocate for women who suffer acid attacks, a widespread form of gendered violence against women in India, with approximately 1,000 attacks a year. Saa campaigns for regulating the sale of acid, as well as sufficient punishments for the perpetrators, which is often not enforced strongly enough.

It was Saa's courage and determination that inspired Viva N Diva to ask her to model, Aayushi Rastogi, a spokesperson for the company said:

The whole idea was to challenge the widespread judgement of women on the basis of their beauty. You always see actresses or models on the cover of a magazine.

Saa, for her part, hopes that her expanded national platform will not only raise awareness of the stigma and suffering acid attack survivors face, but stop future attacks. She told the BBC:

[The campaign] will also change the attitude of criminals who realise that girls who've been attacked won't just sit quietly within the confines of their homes.

Check out the video that accompanied the launch of Viva n Diva's new range below:

More: These women were all victims of acid attacks. Now they are models

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