In an inspirational, yet heart-wrenching true life tale, this survivor of an acid attack is stepping out as the new face of a fashion line.
Laxmi Saa was attacked when she was just 15 years old because she didn’t want to marry a man who was 17 years older then she was.
Now at age 26, after becoming an advocate for women affected by acid attacks, she will model for an Indian clothing label for their “Face of Courage” campaign.
Acid attacks are more common then we hear. I shared the story in September of another survivor, Reshma Qureshi, who started her red lipstick campaign to empower and help women survivors of these attacks. Since Laxmi’s attack she has worked tirelessly to help other women recover and has petitioned endlessly for the government to step in and regulate the sale of the acids used in these attacks. It’s cheap acid sold off the shelves with cleaning supplies.
The Acid Survivors Trust International estimates there could be as many as 1,000 acid attacks every year in India alone. Many go unreported. The motives for these attacks vary from country to country but are common throughout South-East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, the West Indies and the Middle East. They work to raise awareness and bring this horrific attacks to an end.
Laxmi’s shared her views with BBC saying, “The problem is not just in being a victim but also your victimisation by the society. We are treated as if we are good for nothing and as if our lives are a waste.”
She went on to say of her fashion campaign, “This opportunity to represent an apparel brand was a platform for me to set an example for women like me to be confident and have courage despite their physical appearances. This was also a platform for me to send a clear message to criminals that women will not lose courage even after they are attacked with acid to destroy their physical beauty.”
The strength of these women never ceases to amaze me. Here in the western world I often hear complaints of having nothing to wear, having a bad hair day, or “needing” a manicure or pedicure. I’m guilty myself of the pedicure “need.” Then I read a story like this, and it puts it all into perspective for me. No matter what small complaints I might have, I need to be mindful of the freedoms I have which others are still fighting for—the things we forget to appreciate. I can marry whomever I choose with no fear of repercussion for turning someone down.
The amount of respect and admiration I hold for these beautiful women, who refuse to sit back and remain victims in a society stacked against them, is immeasurable. I have been victimized in other ways in my life, so I understand a little about what it takes to shed the identity of victim and empower yourself to take charge of your own life.
In so many parts of the world women are victimized and mistreated for not “doing what is expected of them” or punished for being beautiful or empowered. By raising awareness and speaking out around the world, campaigns like these and women like Laxshi and Reshma put pressure on these countries governing bodies to regulate acid sales, and make it a punishable offense.
More power to you Laxmi. And for all the other nameless, silent survivors out there, you are beautiful and we love you.
There is hope.
Author: Lindsay Carricarte
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Image: Youtube screenshot