New Delhi, India - 24-year old photographer Rahul Saharan and 22-year old acid throwing victim Rupa who dreams to become a fashion designer rallied 4 more acid throwing victims for a beautifully unusual fashion shoot.
With the incidence of acid throwing continually on the rise in India, Saharan who is an advocate for Stop Acid Attacks - an organization that provides medical and legal help to acid attack victims teamed up with Rupa to provide not only a platform to share the victim's stories but to show the world "what beautiful really means."
The fashion shoot that rendered 44 images featured the girls in fine clothes designed by Rupa. However, the heart of each photograph is the confidence and esteem each of the girls possess despite the physical and psychological wounds the attacks caused them.
Saharan said that during the shoot all he did was tell the girls to be themselves because they look beautiful just the way the are. On top of that, Saharan also said that he neither performed makeup or any type of heavy post-process editing to the photos.
Rupa, whose designs are featured in the shoot and who is also one of Saharan's models was attacked by four men whom her stepmother brought to her room when she was 15. She has had 11 surgeries to date and will still need to undergo more in the future.
Laxmi who is 22 was also doused with acid when she was 15 a friend of her brother's after she refused her sexual advances;Ritu, another 22-year old girl, was attaked by a cousin due to a family dispute over land; and sisters Sonam, 22 and Chanal, 17 who were attacked and harassed by men in their Uttar Pradesh village are the other 4 models.
According to a post in the Stop Acid Attacks website, the shoot is also part of fundraiser whose proceeds will be used for the initial capital of Rupa's boutique.
As of the present, India keeps no record of acid attacks and thus statistics cannot be retrieved. Police records, however, suggest that victims or targets are most often women who put down their aggressors sexual advances.