Walking on the ramp, each move showing her confidence, acid attack survivor Laxmi refused to be called a victim; instead she chose to be an inspiring fighter.
A perfect figure and an appealing face is a necessity to be a brand ambassador of a fashion label, or so the world says. However, clothing brand “Viva D Diva” planned a campaign called “Face of Courage” challenging the outlook of people towards fashion and beauty. And they could not find anyone better than Laxmi, the most outspoken advocate against acid attacks.
Her journey from a victim to a fighter and a living inspiration was both mentally and physically challenging. Laxmi , was born to an impoverished family in New Delhi. Her life was not much more different from the millions of teenage girls in India but it remained so till 2005 only.
In 2005, teenaged Laxmi faced a horrific acid attack. A man double her age had an eye on her. He asked her to marry him but she turned it down as a result of that refusal he planned an acid attack and attacked her with acid while walking at a bus stop located in south Delhi’s famous and populous Khan Market. The man who claimed to love that face left a permanent scar on it.
The journey to recovery was full of challenges; the sole earner of the family was her father and it was not easy for him to manage the expenses. But family was always on her support in her fight. Seven surgeries were carried out in total to find a figured face.
Some of the toughest were her initial days, and not making it easier was the fact that the outlook of society towards her was more painful than her wounds. But this was when she developed the habit of challenging the stereotypes set by society; she gathered courage and added tailoring and the art of beautification to her basic computer skills to find a job for her but nobody was willing to give her a job just because that her face was scary for them. Meanwhile, her attacker was on bail and soon was living happily married while she was suffering, having done no wrong at all.
This injustice called to time for a change and Laxmi’s crusade against acid attack began in 2006 when along with another acid attack survivor Rupa, she filled a Public Interest Litigation in the supreme Court to regulate the sale of acid. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of her plea. This was her victory, her moment of pride.
Her victories and accomplishments started a chain. She started the campaign “Stop acid attacks”. She was the director of Chhavn foundation, an NGO dedicated to help other acid attack survivors. The woman who had been denied a job a few years back was now the host of a TV series called “Udaan”, her own television show launched on News X on the 8th of March 2014 based on the stories of acid attack survivors.
Her biggest came was when the First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama awarded Laxmi with the International Women of Courage Award in March 2014.
A revolution, a change came in her personal life in January 2014. A man once altered her life, changing it forever, leaving her with a chip on her shoulder. But now came a man who took away the chip, a man to whom her scars did not matter.
Alok Dixit, a social activist had also set out to fight against the scourge of acid attacks. She could not have asked anyone better than him. But the two decided not to marry for they wanted to challenge the society they started a relationship of understanding and support, without giving a name to it.
Challenging the taboos of society Laxmi has faced the world boldly.
For those who think that an attack to face can destroy a woman’s life she is an extraordinary example of courage and inspiration. She not only fought her own fight but is also doing so for so many others on the same journey she once took.
Laxmi has now entered a new phase of her life by becoming the mother of a daughter.