Acid attack survivors in India model new clothing range for powerful photoshoot

Rupa designed the clothes after surviving an acid attack by her stepmother 

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The Independent Online

Survivors of acid attacks in India have become the face of a new clothing range designed by a woman who had acid thrown in her face while she was asleep four years ago.

Delhi-based designer Rupa and her friends Rita, Sonam, Laxmi and Chanchal modelled the clothes from her new range, Rupa Designs, for photographer Rahul Saharan.

Rupa suffered extensive injuries when her stepmother threw acid in her face while she was sleeping in 2008.

She was allegedly left without any medical aid for six hours before her uncle found her and transported her to hospital, where she underwent eleven operations and spent three months in rehabilitation.

Her uncle had to borrow on the house they lived in to pay for her medical treatment and Rupa said her injuries made it difficult to find work.

She dropped her surname to distance herself from her father for supporting her stepmother after the attack. 

Rupa, 22, told the Daily Mail: 'I always wanted to be a designer but after the attack there was a pause in my life. I was so insecure and embarrassed by my scars I used to cover my face with a scarf.

"I always hung onto my dream but I never knew that one day it would be possible and I would be launching my own label."

After the attack, Rupa teamed up with the Stop Acid Attacks charity who run Chhaon, a support centre for survivors, and began designing clothes.

The charity is now looking to help Rupa raise enough money to open her own clothing boutique in Delhi, which would employ other acid attack survivors as staff.

Rupa said: “Chhaon has helped me feel confident again and believe in myself. I have always loved fashion and tailoring but I never thought I could start my own label. This is the first time I have presented my clothes and I am glad to see them being appreciated.”

The charity asked Mr Saharan to lead the photoshoot, who said the models define “beauty and courage” on his Facebook page. His gallery from the shoot has been shared over 2,000 times.

He described the response to his work as overwhelming. “I have been associated with Chhaon for the last two-and-half years but this is the first time I feel like I've put my skills to good use to help these lovely girls. I feel blessed to have got this exclusive opportunity.”

He added: "I kept telling the girls 'don't let others tell you what beauty is, you yourself are beautiful, every woman is beautiful'."