"The world will automatically turn you into a victim."
Acid attack survivors took to the catwalk at London Fashion Week, to raise awareness of acid attacks and to prevent women from going through the same abuse.
Organised by the British Asian Trust and a UK-based charity, GMSP, which helps victims of sexual violence, the show featured designs by Asian designer Raishma and shoe-designer Lucy Choi.
The two stars of the show were 26-year-old Laxmi and 24-year-old Adele Bellis.
Laxmi, originally from Delhi, has been campaigning against acid attacks ever since she was a victim of one over ten years ago.
When she was 15 years old, Laxmi was attacked by her 32-year-old stalker. The man had become violent and aggressive and pestered her for 10 months after Laxmi rejected his marriage proposal.
The acid attack burned the skin on her face and arms and Laxmi had to spend two and a half months in hospital.
She has had seven operations, costing a total of 20,000,000 rupees, (roughly £22,000) which was paid for by her family and friends. Her attacker was eventually jailed for 10 years, four years after the attack.
She is now a prominent figure in Delhi to help raise awareness for, unfortunately, common acid attacks. ASTI estimates that 1,000 acid attacks take place in India every year and The Guardian have also reported these attacks have almost doubled in the UK in the past decade.
This took Laxmi by surprise and when speaking to The Guardian, she said:
“When I found out that this is happening in the UK I was really surprised because I thought of course crimes would exist in a country like [India], but I never thought that something like this would exist. I was really shocked.”
Adele Bellis is also an acid attack survivor; she was attacked by an ex-partner while waiting at a bus stop in Surrey, UK.
Bellis tried to avoid getting the burn to her face, so she turned her head when attacked, which resulted in her loosing an ear and half of her hair.
Both ladies strutted their stuff down the catwalk whilst holding signs saying: “resilience”, “respect” and “honour”.
Sonal Sachdev Patel, the CEO of GMSP said this event is to remind people about the global problem of violence against women and to honour the women who survive it.
“The world will automatically turn you into a victim and victimise you.
“I would say instead of having a mentality that makes you feel like a victim, become a fighter and become a voice for the people who are going through these things. So you can strengthen those who are going through violence,” says Laxmi.
Since her attack she has set up an organisation in India called Stop Acid Attacks, and Adele has since written an inspiring book called Brave.