India acid attack victims defiant on the haute couture catwalk

The practice of vitriolage (the jet of sulfuric acid on the face) still represents a persistent problem. The association of Acid Survivors Trust International estimates that there will be between 500 and 1000 acid attacks each year in India – although only a few hundred cases are reported to the authorities because of the shame and fear that accompanies the victims, but also because of the social and family pressure that leads some to stay with violent families.

It is women who are mainly targeted by this scourge. The gesture, often performed in the context of “honor killings” by their husbands or members of their own family, is to aim their faces for a punitive purpose, to “mark” them, to disfigure them for life, to humiliate them and to deprive them of all beauty. Covered with shame, they are then considered monsters, outcasts, are afraid to show themselves in public.

This Saturday night, in India, nine women disfigured with acid parade during the very first haute couture event reserved for vitriolage survivors. They paraded in New Delhi, in dresses made by the best Indian designers. This event, organized by the NGO Make Love Not Scars, aimed to raise public awareness of the barbarity of this mutilatory practice, and to remove the prejudices that still weigh on victims on a daily basis, while giving a different perspective on the fashion and questioning our own perception of beauty.

“Before, I was embarrassed by the reaction of people on the street. They were looking elsewhere, wondering what had happened to me. You are told that no one is ever going to marry you, that with such a misshapen face, you are not beautiful. “ Reshma Bano Qureshi, 20, recounts his ordeal and suffering she endured after being assaulted by her brother. “Today, I am proud, I trust who I am. I want people to know that the face is not what makes you beautiful, it’s your heart” The young woman, whose words were collected by AFP, had already appeared last year at the fashion week in New York, and she is currently writing a book.

New Delhi-based Make Love Not Scars helps victims to heal their wounds, both physically and emotionally, to help them make a fresh start in life.

The NGO had already broadcast a powerful clip, which took the codes of makeup tutorials youtube uses beauty, to raise awareness about the cause of women disfigured with acid.

Source: AFP