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New Calendar Features India’s Acid Attack Survivors

Evil presents itself in many forms. For a group of 11 brave, young Indian women, it arrived in the form of acid attacks. And this past International Women’s Day, on March 8, these bold women were featured in a calendar devoted to spreading awareness about one of the most heinous crimes against females: the “Stop Acid Attacks” campaign by the Chhanv Foundation–a group focused on shining a spotlight on acid attack survivors and stopping the trend.

The publication is “meant to show that they have dreams,” according to one of the photographers on the project, Rahul Saharan, who spoke with Quartz.

Each woman gets her own page for each designated month of the year. January’s model is Dolly, 14. Dolly was just 12 when she was attacked with acid by a man twice her age who had tried to force her to have sex with him. Her dream to someday become a doctor has reportedly not fallen upon deaf ears, but Quartz notes she is falling short of raising the necessary funds for her education.

February’s model, Gita, reportedly had acid thrown on her and her two daughter’s by her husband, whom she ened up staying with because she was seemingly faced with no other choice. Women are still viewed and treated as second-class citizens in many parts of the world, and in Gita’s case, her husband carried out his crime while inebriated because he was angry that the couple bore daughters and not sons. Their youngest daughter did not survive the acid attack.

Gita’s eldest daughter, Nitu, 24, did survive and is featured as April’s model. She aspires to be a singer. Playback singers are an integral part of the Bollywood film industry, which produces about 1,000 films annually.

June’s model, Ritu, reportedly had acid thrown on her face by two women who were hired by her own aunt following a property dispute involving her parents in 2012. “My mother used to inspire me to make a name for myself,” Ritu said in a 2013 interview. “I am sure she did not want me to make news this way–another victim of the crimes against women in India.”

All the women reportedly run a cafe in Agra, India, named Sheroes’ Hangout; the cafe’s name is indicative of the perseverance they have displayed and inspiration each of their stories provides for others who have suffered a similar fate.

According to a 2013 BBC report, approximately 1,000 acid attacks are carried out annually in India, although the country does not maintain an official tally.

A complete list of all the women and their calendar images can be found on Quartz.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz.

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