Acid attack survivor and activist Patricia Lefranc flips through a chic book of photos taken of her by British fashion photographer Rankin while seated at her house in the Belgian town of Nivelles.
In one, she’s holding a picture of herself taken before to the horrific 2009 attack by her ex. Others feature her in various positions across the lookbook—a picture library that fashion labels usually utilize.
“After the attack, I have come to see myself more clearly.” “I would have been in tears if I had seen this picture of myself five or six years ago,” Lefranc remarked.
“I know this will sound harsh, but I’ve learned to accept this ugly.” It’s me.
Lefranc,59, is featured in a new campaign by Rankin and the nonprofit Acid Survivors Trust International (ASTi), which aims to increase public awareness of the terrible effects of acid violence and the geographic relationship between the frequency of attacks and the use of corrosives in the fashion and textile industries.
“The lookbook is an advocacy tool created to increase awareness and motivate businesses to take preventative measures by enforcing stronger regulations around corrosive substances that have been weaponized against women, primarily by men.”
As well as portraits of Lefranc, the “Tear Couture” lookbook focuses on countries with textile industries and acid attacks that have occurred there.
Shah said at least 10,000 acid attacks occur each year around the world, but under-reporting remains a big issue.
“Very few countries have acid attacks as a specific offence so we don’t really know the total number of attacks occurring globally,” he said.
Lefranc’s since jailed attacker, who she says harassed her after she split with him, had posed as a delivery man when he doused her with acid.
“I was crawling on my arms, I couldn’t walk, and I saw that my arm was melting like an aspirin and I said to myself ‘You’re dying here’,” she said.
The mother of three, whose face and body are laced with scars, spent three months in a coma after the attack and has undergone over 100 operations.
“I simply said to myself, ‘Look, if you’re still alive it’s for a reason. There must be a reason’,” she said. “Even before what happened I was a fighter, I was always busy and I did not want to stay locked up at home and give him the satisfaction.”