By Mayank Jain:
Acid attacks are one of the gravest atrocities that a human being can go through and yet, reports of acid attacks on women around the world are just getting more frequent. While a downward trend is visible in the developing countries due to reach of awareness and education, India is falling lower down the order. 72% of the acid attacks cases involve women and most of the perpetrators are estranged lovers, lurking lechers who make sexual passes and get frustrated at the denial. Their idea of vengeance is an acid attack on the innocent subject of their infatuation and they attempt to scar her for life, physically and emotionally.
Courage, as they say, is bigger than most things we have encountered. Acid attacks survivors are epitome of this iron will to struggle as they make it in a world that holds biases against them for no fault of their own. Young girls face ostracization because of being attacked and the society rejects them because of the superficial standards of ‘beauty’. These survivors not only face social, but economic hardships as well since the attacks almost certainly result in some disfigurement or an impairment in sensory fictions like loss of vision and hence, finding work becomes a task in itself. Those who can and qualify to work are frequently rejected from organizations for not being ‘up to the mark’ in the popular sense of beauty.
Rupa is an acid attack fighter from Uttar Pradesh. Her stepmother tried to kill her after her mother’s demise and poured acid on her. Rupa was sleeping and the shock that her own stepmother did it to her has never left her. She is now living with her uncle but horrors are still fresh in her mind. She went through 7 surgeries and now dreams of starting up a boutique.
She wants to rent a place in a decent locality in Delhi and raise some funds for the premises and buying equipment to start the boutique where other acid attack fighters can also be employed and fend for themselves. She was in need of a photographer and models for her newest designs and that’s where Rahul Saharan stepped in. His photos, all of which feature acid attack survivors as opposed to fashion models, were an instant hit on the social media and since then, Rupa’s dreams have grown a new pair of wings.
We contacted Rahul to know more about his inspiration behind these photos and he shares,
“I have been working with an NGO called Chhanv from 2 years and they told me about the requirement of a photo shoot. I thought we should take the acid attack fighters themselves instead of other women since they define beauty and symbolize being comfortable better than anyone else. I strongly feel that everyone should feel beautiful and no matter what your colour, age, gender is, you are beautiful.”
His message to the world is loud and clear, “I want to send out the message that people should change their perception on beauty and stop defining it within close boundaries. Women aren’t objects to be judged but people to be respected and fighters deserve love, not ostracization.”
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