Two women who were poorly scarred when they had acid thrown at them will be taking to the catwalk this week at a charity gala event in the lead-up to London fashion week.
Laxmi, 26, from Delhi and Adele Bellis, 24, from Lowestoft in Suffolk, will be joining models on the catwalk for a show run by the British Asian Trust and a charity, GMSP, which helps the sufferers of sexual violence.
Laxmi, who is one of India’s most influential anti-acid attack campaigners, was the victim of an attack when she was 15 after she rejected the advances of a 32-year-old man. After the attack Laxmi was forced to stay indoors and was rejected by her family, while her attacker went unpunished and got married. She was a key voice in the society to regulate sales of acid in India.
Bellis had sulphuric acid dropped on her head in August 2014 while waiting at a bus stop in an attack planned by her ex-boyfriend. In the attack she lost an ear and resulted in scarring to one side of her face. Her ex-boyfriend was then sentenced to life in prison for the attack.
Thase girls along with a dozen models, will be modelling designs by British Asian designer Raishma and shoe designer Lucy Choi and as they walk will be holding signs saying “resilience”, “respect” and “honour”. The aim, says Sonal Sachdev Patel, CEO of GMSP, is to remind people about the global problem of brutality against women and to honour the women who survive it.
“You see acid survivors and you see how unmerited it is, you see how one act of violence has a huge impact on a woman’s life. But a lot of violence isn’t visible, the story is much wider,” said Patel.
“We feel so much respect for Laxmi and Adele. I met with a surgeon who does a lot of work with acid survivors; he said most of these people don’t want to leave the house and so for one to step out on to a catwalk with all those lights, that’s a huge thing that requires such strength of quality. They are speaking for all women who face violence, some of whom aren’t willing to stand up yet.”