The strength of a woman
She was 15, pretty and wanted to be a singer. But Laxmi Agarwal heeded her father’s warnings to concentrate on her studies before seeking her dream of fame. And then a man she barely knew announced he was in love with her and wanted to marry her. He was 32, a virtual stranger and Laxmi wasn’t interested and ignored his advances. So what did he do? Try to persuade her? Romance her with flowers? Or realise she was too young and take the hint? No, he took revenge in the cruellest, most hateful way: he threw acid in her face in an attempt to make sure she was so disfigured no other man would ever want her.
Sadly Laxmi is not alone. Every year an estimated 1,000 women in India are victims of acid attacks, mostly carried out by men who perceive they’ve been rejected. Laxmi had never dated or encouraged her attacker – he was her friend’s elder brother, not a potential suitor. That didn’t stop him maiming her for life with corrosive acid that made the skin on her face melt.
But while her looks vanished, her brave spirit didn’t, and after seven operations, Laxmi has found the courage to face the world. Her face will be scarred forever, but inside she still feels beautiful. A co-worker at Stop Acid Attacks, a campaigning and support charity, thinks so too and the couple are set to marry. Read her incredible story on page 18 where she says, “It is amazing – one man destroys my life, another is giving me one.”