A fashion photo shoot featuring acid attack survivors is making waves in India and around the world, and aims to address the often underreported crime.
The 41 photos feature five women who were attacked with acid, but who pose playfully in the series.
“I told them to be natural. I didn’t do any makeup or editing,” Rahul Saharan, the photographer and a volunteer for Stop Acid Attacks, said. “I told them, 'You look beautiful and you have to be the way you are.'"
Since the pictures were posted on Facebook in early August they have been widely shared.
Rupa, one woman featured in the photos, was attacked with acid by her step-mother at the age of 15 when the woman decided she didn’t want to pay for Rupa’s wedding expenses. The wedding was later called off. Laxmi, now 22, was also attacked at 15 when she denied her brother’s 32-year-old friend after he proposed.
Sonam and Chanchal, sisters, were attacked by men who had been harassing them in their village. Ritu was attacked during a property dispute.
In each case, the attackers were convicted – however, such crimes often go unpunished in India. According to the Acid Survivors Trust International, some 1,500 acid attacks are reported around the world each year. The group estimates that the actual number of attacks is much higher.
Last year, India passed a law limiting the sale of acid, though Stop Acid Attacks has since counted at least 200 attacks.