The eight models are travelling from rural areas of southern Bangladesh, where acid violence is prevalent, to raise their voices for all women and girls.
Each with an inspirational story of how they have overcome the trauma and isolation caused by their life-changing injuries, their united message is clear: together we can create change and end violence for good.
Ganga was attacked with acid aged 17
Ganga Dasi, 49, had acid thrown on her face when she was 17 after she refused a marriage proposal. “I lost all hope to live. No one came forward to help us,” she said.
With support and training from ActionAid Bangladesh, Ganga rebuilt her life. She got a loan to start rearing livestock, became a successful entrepeneur, and now shares her farming knowledge with other women – inspiring many survivors with her story of success.
In 2015, she received the prestigious Joyeeta Award, a scheme organised by the Bangladeshi government to recognise women who are exceptional role models. She says. “I am now more confident. I will not hide my face any more.”
Twenty-two years after the acid attack, Ganga is looking forward to taking part in Survivor’s Runway. It seems like a dream that is becoming reality.”
Join our campaign to end violence against women and girls
Whether it’s acid attacks, domestic abuse or sexual harassment, all forms of violence against women are caused by deep-rooted gender inequality, and hold back women, girls and entire communities.
Sign up now to be part of the campaign to end violence against women and girls.
The story behind the show
Survivors’ Runway is inspired by the survivors’ original fashion show – ‘Beauty Redefined’ – which they put on in Bangladesh earlier this year, with support from ActionAid.
The show, held for International Women’s Day in March, starred 15 acid attack survivors, aiming to challenge conventional perceptions of beauty and celebrate the survivors.
Despite the huge physical and psychological trauma, they are continuing their lives, bravely speaking out to end acid violence and creating positive change in their community.
“We are here today to show their inner strength, as they have come a long way,” said Farah Kabir, country director of ActionAid Bangladesh. “I often take inspiration from them. Their courage is huge.”
Following the success of the event, eight of the survivors are now taking the ActionAid show international, appearing again in London for our exclusive October event.
Acid attacks and violence against women
Most survivors of acid attacks are women and girls. The most common reasons for attacks are the refusal of marriage, the denial of sex, and the sexual rejection of men and boys.
Attackers deliberately disfigure women’s faces in order to try and exclude them from society. Survivors suffer enormous physical and psychological trauma and often require long term medical and psychosocial support.
Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread human rights abuses, affecting around one in three women worldwide. It takes many forms, from domestic abuse and sexual harassment, to rape as a weapon of war, forced marriage and acid attacks. It has one root cause — gender inequality.
How we’re tackling acid violence in Bangladesh
ActionAid Bangladesh helped to establish one of the first networks run by survivors of acid violence, in three areas where attacks are common. As well as providing psychological support to help survivors overcome their trauma and isolation, we help bring about social change by educating communities about the rights of survivors and of all women to live a life free from violence.
After ActionAid intervened in 2004 acid violence gradually started to decline in those areas, and between 2011-2013 it decreased by a staggering 70%. Between 2007 and 2013 ActionAid Bangladesh supported 172 survivors in the three areas.
Have you been affected by violence?
If you or a woman you know is facing violence, you can get help by calling the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 – it’s free and open 24 hours. You can also visit their website below:
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