Russian-born supermodel Natalia Vodianova took a stand after she said her younger disabled sister was mistreated in an Russian cafe. On Wednesday, the 33-year-old model took to her official Facebook page to express her anger to her over 325,000 followers and address the incident that involved her 27-year-old sister and her caregiver.
"The situation that occurred yesterday with my sister Oksana, not an isolated incident, unfortunately, this is the reality in which they live all families raising children with special needs. I find it hard to talk about it, but I understand that it is a signal to society that it is impossible not to hear," she posted on her page.
According to The Guardian, Russian authorities responded just hours after the model's posts, opening a criminal investigation of "violation of human dignity with the threat of violence." The investigating committee called the cafe’s alleged actions “an outrageous incident”.
Natalia's younger sister Oksana, who is autistic and has cerebral palsy, was out on a walk with her caregiver in their hometown of Nizhny Novgorod, an industrial city where Natalia was raised in poverty and where her mom and sister still live. After deciding she needed to take a break, the two stopped in the Flamingo Café when they were asked to leave, because Okasana was reportedly "scaring" the customers.
Wrote Natalia: "Suddenly cafe owner came and asked rudely 'Let's go. You scare away all our customers. Go treated and treat your baby. And then come to a public place.' Babysitting apologized, said that the child special, it is better to make it a rest, and then she is gone. The owner refused to wait and said that he is armed," she continued as she recounted the unfortunate chain of events that took place involving her sister.
The Russian model then went on to explain how afterwards her mother and the store manager filed police reports against one another. Natalia used her post to stress the importance of helping and understanding people with disabilities.
"I want to appeal to every one of us, let's help people with disabilities and their families to be happy," she added. "Let us help non-profit organizations and charities who are working daily to build an inclusive society in Russia, to live in an equal society."
Natalia, who has four children, has always championed the need to help disabled children and their families and in 2004 she set up the Naked Heart Foundation, whose mission is to ensure that every child has the two things they need for a happy, fulfilling childhood – a loving family and a safe and stimulating place to play.
By the age of 17, she had signed with Viva Models and moved to Paris, where she was snapped up by Chanel, Gucci, Versace and Yves Saint Laurent among other fashion houses. The Calvin Klein model, known as "Supernova," has cited Oksana as her inspiration to pursue her career on the runway, as a way to support her family.