True love: Laxmi was left disfigured after suffering a brutal acid attack in 2005 and thought she'd never find love ... until she met the dashing social activist Alok Dixit
Natural beauty: Laxmi before the attack - she has since undergone seven major surgeries to try and reduce the burns to her skin
Beauty lies within: Handsome lover Alox Dixit says Laxmi's beauty lies in her heart, adding that he has never felt looks are important
Tenderness: The couple live together in India but have shunned social convention and decided against getting married
An Indian woman left severely disfigured in a brutal acid attack has found love with a social activist helping bring justice to victims of such attacks.
Laxmi, 24 - who goes by just her first name - had given up on finding a partner thanks to the stares and comments she received in public left her too ashamed to leave the home.
But after meeting Alok Dixit, 26, while protesting against the rising tide of acid attacks against women, Laxmi has turned her life around.
The 24-year-old, from Delhi - who underwent seven major surgeries to try and reduce the burns to her skin said: 'After the attack, I never thought I would ever find a soulmate. I had lost hope.
'But in Alok, I couldn't have found anyone better. He understood the kind of pain I was in. He understood what I had been going through.'
Alok, who along with Laxmi now runs the Stop Acid Attacks campaign, added: 'I never felt that looks are important. Looks do not matter because I find Laxmi very beautiful. She is a beautiful person and her beauty lies in her heart.'
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 litigations in India's highest court, seeking changes in the law and asked the government to take steps to restrict the sale of acid.
But privately she struggled to cope with the dramatic change in looks and confidence following the horrifying attack.
Laxmi added: 'I cannot forget how brutally I was attacked. I want to make sure that such things don't happen to anyone else.
'My father worked as a chef. I was friends with another girl in the neighbourhood and her brother soon started proposing to me. I was only 15. On April 18 (2005), he messaged me: 'I love you." I ignored it.'
But Laxmi had little idea of the tragic turn of events set to unfold because of her perceived snub.
'I was waiting for a bus when he approached me with his brother's girlfriend. They pushed me to the ground and threw acid over my face,' Laxmi recalled.
'I was crying for help, but no one came to my rescue. I tried waving at the passing cars. They did not stop, no one helped. I almost got run over three times. I could not even open my eyes properly.
'I felt as if someone had set my whole body on fire. The skin was just coming off, it was like dripping, from my hands and from my face.'
In the nine-years since the attack, Laxmi has undergone seven face reconstruction surgeries, but insists she no longer cares about her looks thanks to Alok.
She said: 'Someone asked me the question of what if the attacker still offered to marry me? I said, he has changed my face, but he has failed to change my mind.
'Afterwards I never wanted to find love. I mean there was no hope in any case because of the scars.'
But after meeting Dixit, that all changed and she says she learned to love again.
'I contacted Alok for a job. I was told later that he had been looking for me for over four years. Then when we met, he understood what I was going through,' she said.
The families of the couple have also accepted the relationship and are standing by them.
'We have decided to live together until we die. But we are challenging the society by not getting married,' Laxmi said.
Dixit continued: 'We are not going to follow the norms that the society approves of. We will prove that our love does not need a name. Our love is about understanding and support.'
The couple says they haven't thought about the future yet, but believe helping acid attack victims is their only goal.
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