Delhi-based Photographer Niraj Gera has done a brilliant job by bringing to the fore the journey of acid-attack survivors through his lens. Titled Sacred Transformations, the work is about a series of photos featuring women who have survived the horrendous attacks.
People will be aware of Laxmi, who became the face of the acid attack campaign — Stop Acid Attacks and helped several victims. Sacred Transformations features Laxmi with other women who went also faced the trauma but never lost the hope to fight back.
The photo series, which has been awarded in quite a few prestigious international competitions, shows them transforming from devastation to confidence and from wreckage to happiness.
Take a look at the powerful photos of these beautiful women and read the meaning behind it.
1. Flames of Injustice: The photograph shows how a spark of revenge or anger can burn down somebody's life to ashes through an inhumane act like acid attack.
2. Inflamed Uproar: The photograph is an attempt to express the unimaginable intensity of inflammation and excruciating pain that a survivor goes through when attacked by acid. It not only causes the skin tissues to melt but also sometimes can dissolve the bones too. The severe damage can also pose a great risk of death.
3. A Struggle to Break Free: Coming to terms with the reality isn't easy, but accepting to live with it is even more torturing. The emotional upheaval, which keeps resurfacing, pushes against the heart the desire to break free.
4. Bars of Stigmatisation!: The photograph shows that because of the stigmatisation and insensitive treatment by the society, the survivor not only loses her self-confidence but is also fettered and victimised by notions which the world builds against her.
5. Tears of Nostalgia: The photograph depicts a moment where the survivor nostalgically looks at an old picture of her and wishes to turn the clock back. There are also survivors who don't even have a picture to share how they used to look prior to the attack.
6. Unconcealable Scathe: The photograph shows that no matter how hard the survivor may try to hide her burns, in order to escape any embarrassment or awkwardness, the discomfort will continue to haunt her.
7. Veil of Reluctance: It is not very easy to face the world, knowing very well that it is not going to look at you the same way as it used to. The photograph shows a survivor resorting to veil by compulsion because of the stares and insensitivity which instils reluctance in them.
8. The wounds heal, but the scars remain: The survivors usually have to undergo multiple surgeries for treatment. The surgery might help them recover, but it cannot take away the scars (physical as well as mental) the incident has cursed the survivors with.
9. A Token of Love: The photograph shows the irony of love and its expression. On the one hand, we had lovers like emperor Shahjahan who created memorial like the beautiful Taj Mahal as an expression of an everlasting love for his beloved wife, on the other we have fanatics who mistook their desire for love and attacked and disfigure the identity of their 'beloved' by throwing acid upon them. This was his token of love for her.
10. Untainted Love: No matter what the world throws at you, from a mother you can always expect unconditional Love. The photograph captures an intimate moment between a mother and her daughter, both of whom were attacked by her own husband. It also tries to send across the message that, love moves the world. We can be more generous by being more loving. A loving environment helps the survivors overcome and cope with the trauma soon.
11. Rising from Darkness: No misery has lasted forever, and this one too had to pass. The photograph shows the growth of the survivor from hiding behind the veils to leaving the veil behind her; from fighting the darkness of reluctance, self-doubt, lack of confidence and value for the self to rising from it. None of the scars can put her to shame anymore because she is now comfortable in her skin.
12. Because I have a brother, I'll always have a friend: It is always assuring to know that someone's got your back. To know that you have a friend, a family whom you can trust and look forward to in times, good or bad. This is a photograph of one such assuring relationship.
13. The Unrobable Joy: The photograph displays the joy and enthusiasm of the survivor, which she realised, is her very nature and nobody can rob her of what exclusively belongs to her.
14. Make a Wish: The photograph depicts the beauty of a survivor and how, just like any of us, she too has a beautiful world of her dreams full of wonders which nobody could, and nobody can ever snatch away; not even her perpetrators.
15. Breathing Freedom: The picture depicts the spirit of freedom and a sense of hope that is withheld in the eyes of the survivor for an ever-growing and ever-evolving self.