#16Days: Rising from the ashes
In 2005, a shy 14-year-old Laxmi Agrawal, who nursed dreams of being a singer and participating in reality TV shows, was waylaid by her 32-year-old stalker and his friends. Laxmi had rejected his advances and turned down his proposal days before the incident. The man and his friends threw acid on Laxmi’s face to teach her a lesson for her ‘arrogance’. Laxmi was left to die on a busy road, with cars hitting her unconscious body, till a Good Samaritan helped get her to a hospital.
Despite the trauma, the nightmarish months spent in the hospital and the reactions from people, Laxmi’s spirit remained indomitable. Acid had melted her skin but not her being. Her family’s unwavering support also helped her get back on her feet.
Gradually, the brave-heart took back control of her life and used her experience to help other survivors like her. She became an activist campaigner for Stop Acid Attacks and also realized her childhood dream of being in front of the camera by becoming a television host.
In 2014, she received the International Women of Courage Award by the former US First Lady Michelle Obama. She was also chosen as the NDTV Indian of the year.
Laxmi continues to challenge artificial and misogynistic stereotypes thrust upon women by society and inspires survivors like her to take the world by the horns.
On International Women’s Day 2017, NITI Aayog, in partnership with MyGov and the United Nations in India, launched the second edition of the ‘Women Transforming India Awards’ to recognize exceptional women across India who are affecting positive change in their communities. Laxmi Agarwal Uttar Pradesh was one of the women recognized by the Award.
Laxmi was attacked in 2005 when she was 15-years-old by a man more than twice her age, who she refused to marry. The incident—which took place in broad daylight in one of Delhi’s busiest markets—left her physically and emotionally scarred. It led her to file public interest litigation in India’s highest court to restrict the sale of acid.