It took three years for Rupa to look at her face in the mirror following a horrifying acid attack by her own stepmother.
Now, at the age of 22, she proudly modeled for a photoshoot featuring other women who were victims of acid attacks.
Rupa had acid thrown in her face when she was 16, following dispute over money. "That night, after acid was poured on my face, I could not see anything. I could not open my eyes, I was screaming," she told CNN. "But no one came to help me. My stepmother watched me suffering."
A new photo shoot features women including Rupa, Rita, Laxmi and Chanchal
who are all survivors of acid attacks. Photographer Rahul Saharan wanted to showcase Rupa's clothing designs (her dream is to one day own a boutique as well as change perceptions about the way people perceive what is beautiful.
"In our society, there are lots of things said to the girls — you are not beautiful, you won't get married because your skin is not white and fair," Rahul told CNN. He hopes fellow acid attack victims will be inspired by the photo shoot as well. "I want to change the perception of beauty — tell people that the real beauty is not about having a fair skin.
In 2013, the Indian Supreme Court passed laws aiming to control over-the-counter sales of acid. But the implementation has been poor though, said Alok Dixit, founder of Stop Acid Attacks.
"Yes, the law is on paper, but you can find acid easily in local markets," he said."We need the government to be active in enforcing the law to regulate acid sales."
According to the group, more than 200 acid attack cases have been reported since January 2013. But activists including Alok believe the real number is much higher.
For more information on the models and their stories, visit Stop Acid Attacks.
Images via Stop Acid Attacks.