Survivors of acid attacks strutted down the haute couture fashion show named ‘Power Walk’ in an effort to reconstruct their individuality and identity. This was a show of courage and had an impact of an epic.
On Saturday, nine survivors walked for the organisation Make Love Not Scars, a Delhi-based NGO which help in the rehabilitation of acid attack survivors from the unpleasant cultural phenomena which has plagued our society. All nine women cladded in elegant gowns and sarees donated by top Indian designers including Rohit Bal, Ranna Gill and Archana Kochhar.
This is progress. But the victims are still faced with the challenge of reshaping their lives in the strict patriarchal system. The most disturbing thing about this noxious substance crime is that it is family members or husbands who sanction such crime towards women. The most notable part of the show was that despite suffering from irrevocable injuries, none covered her face.
“I was very nervous,” said Meena Khatoon, to take to the catwalk. Mother-of-one, she now runs her own mobile fixing business. “People often looked away when I went outside. They would walk in the opposite direction when they saw me. I would face a lot of problems,” she told AFP.
“But then one day I thought, if that’s the way you think so be it. I have to build my life, I want my son to study and I have to support him.”
The group Make Love Not Scars help survivors to mend their faces and live with the physical and psychological consequences after acid attack. Stats suggest that over hundreds of cases are reported in India in each year. Although, the group’s vice-president, Tania Singh believes that figures may be skewed and are more likely to be in thousands.
Singh said that lot of women initially were not sure about this and refused to take off their scarves when they first visited Make Love Not Scars. ‘The fashion show was an important way to boost survivor’s confidence’, she added.
Singh further explained them that this fashion show is ‘a chance to realize that they deserve acceptance, love and belonging,’ as they were reluctant saying, ‘We can’t do it, we are pretty ugly.’
The group encouraged them, ‘That’s not true, you are not ugly, society is ugly.’
‘Now they can go back out there, and they can tell the world that they don’t have to hide their faces and scars. It is the world that needs to change its thinking.’
Image Credit: Cover Asia Press