Two acid attack survivors have taken to the runway ahead of London Fashion Week to raise awareness of the plights of women around the world.
Adele Bellis, 24, from Suffolk, and Laxmi, 28, from Delhi, India, modelled at the ‘Give A Girl A Future’ event in the Waldorf HIlton in London on Monday 12 September.
When Laxmi was 15, a 32-year-old man poured acid over her face as she walked in a Delhi marketplace. His reason? She had turned down his repeated proposals.
She told The Guardian her advice to those who have suffered violence is to resist despondency.
“The world will automatically turn you into a victim and victimise you,” she said.
“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.”
Bellis was attacked by a man under orders from her ex-partner Anthony Riley in 2014. Jason Harrison threw acid in her face, causing her to lose her right ear and endure severe scarring down one side of her head and body.
The models wore footwear by designer Lucy Choi London and dresses by Raishma – a designer who has previously dressed Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Mel B and Goldie Hawn.
Raishma told The Huffington Post UK: “Being a woman of Asian background and Pakistani origin, this was a fantastic opportunity for me to give back to my community.
“My clothes are made in Pakistan and India so I’m very familiar with the poor conditions for women in some of the poorest areas. Empowering women through skills training, education and jobs is something I feel very passionate about.”
The ‘Rise On The Runway’ event was run by philanthropic organisation the British Asian Trust in partnership with women’s rights organisation GMSP Foundation.
It marked the launch of British Asian Trust’s first public appeal ‘Give A Girl A Future’, which aims to transform the lives of 100,000 girls, women and their families in South Asia with livelihood projects,