United by pain and the horror of acid attack, four women victims of the horrific crime came together at the Capital on the occasion of International Women’s Day on Friday to remove the veil hiding their disfigured faces and to speak of life after the violence.
“Today we have decided to tell everyone our story. We have decided that it isn’t us who need to hide our faces and live in fear. We have retaliated and earned the right to live a life of dignity, and today we will speak up to make sure that this right isn’t taken away from us again,” said Archana, a victim from Faridabad.
Sitting with three more survivors at an informal meeting organised at Hindi Bhavan and surrounded by supporters from different areas of the country, Archana added: “The Government is often so busy giving compensation to the deceased victims of sexual assault that they forget the living ones. All of us have been struggling to get adequate funds and make sure that we have some constant source of income. But almost all of us have got no support from the Government.”
“Everyone promises but we have to produce so many papers and documents for getting even a single penny that we are often forced to borrow money from our friends and relatives or depend on the mercy of strangers,” she said.
Demanding that the Government should help them live a life of dignity, Archana said: “Most of us want to learn a skill and live independently. We are tired of having to beg for help. Just help us live with dignity.”
Speaking of her injuries and life after the violence, Shahina — another survivor — said: “Today, three years and 17 surgeries after the violence, I still feel that life has become a punishment for me. I have no social life, and nobody — government, neighbours, friends or relatives — has come forward to help me.”
“Today, we demand that men who disfigure women’s faces with acid shouldn’t be put in jail, instead they should also endure an acid attack to understand the implication of what they have done and suffer the consequences,” she said.
On the occasion, a web portal ‘www.stopacidattacks.org’ dedicated to the cause was launched. “This is an initiative to provide a platform to such victims and people who want to support them,” said Alok Nath, one of the organisers. Also present on the occasion was an 18-member delegation from Chennai, which biked its way to Delhi to create awareness on violence against women and children.
SAA is a campaign against acid violence. We work as a bridge between survivors and the society, as most of the victims of this brutal crime, which is much more grave in its impact than a rape, have isolated themselves after losing their face. Due to ignorance of the government and civil society, most survivors find no hope and stay like an outcast, in solitude. SAA aims to research and track acid attack cases and compile a data to get the actual situation of survivors.
We work with partners and stakeholders towards elimination of acid and other forms of burn violence and protection of survivors' rights. The process of justice to an acid attack victim remains incomplete until she gets immediate medical, legal and economic help, along with the critical social acceptance. Our vision is to free India from this crime, which reflects the flaws of our patriarchal society and abusive attitudes. We want survivors to have access to fast justice and fight back the irreparable impact of this crime.
Any amount you can donate to us, no matter how small, will be very gratefully received and put to good use helping acid and burns violence survivors. Your help could help pay for dressings and medical supplies for recuperating patients. A small help could help survivors with vital physical rehabilitation after an attack, including physical therapy and nursing.