Sunday, 21 July 2013

Of scars on a shameless society

Posted by Stop Acid Attacks On Sunday, July 21, 2013 4 comments

Number one, if I am the man who can throw acid on a woman, I may also hit mine with a chair and kill her. Does that mean my family get rid of all the furniture in the house?
And second, the interim order of the Supreme Court to regulate sale of acid in local stores and industrial units will be implemented with immediate affect until the government comes up with a “module” to do the same. We have recently been witness to unfortunate deaths of several children in Bihar after eating their State-sponsored (0.55 Rs per meal) mid-day meal. This explains the state of government schemes and laws in this nation when it comes to their implementation. I am scared by the time acid sale is actually regulated on ground, many more may fall prey to this inhuman violence.
The society we live in leaves a victim of acid attack victimized throughout her/his life. The justice our courts serve includes punishment to the accused, a compensation most accused fail to pay and government refuses to recognize the victim later, and this after years of hearing, by when the survivor of an acid attack has already lost her organs, is struggling to regain health and live a normal life.
This is precisely how the life of the women we have been associated with through Stop Acid Attacks is after acid was thrown to disfigure their beautiful faces. As, BBC journalist Radha Bedi puts it in her documentary (that can be watched here), “They could take her face. But, they couldn't take her heart. They couldn't take her soul.”
At the end of a hectic day and a lot of running around, when I asked Laxmi, the petitioner who has become the confident face of our campaign, what she was pondering over, and she said: “I have understood today that life is more about living for others and less for your own happiness.” She later urged me to direct the funds she receives post her 'victory' to other survivors in need of immediate surgeries. Told her not to think much and cheer up. As she sleeps, breathing like a kid, the scars on her right arm remind me of the inhuman world outside this 'Chhanv'. May the universe keep her safe when she steps out there in the wild.
Being around Laxmi helps me believe in life. Often, after meeting the survivors, I'd think the universe is being unfair to people putting them through such pain and isolation. Death would be fair than this. But, Laxmi met us for the first time with her face uncovered, unlike others. She had already come to terms with the way world reacted to her burnt skin. But, she knew she was more than her face, and any acid could not burn the person she was, and is. Laxmi helps me understand that if life gives you the tiniest chance, its only purpose is to glorify the meaning of human existence.
Shaina (left) and Laxmi in Mumbai earlier this year
And she is well on her way to do that. She understands laws and courts can not eradicate the crime of acid attacks from this country. She understands not every man is a bastard out there with an acid bottle in his hand. She gets that educating people and creating awareness is the only way towards a society where women are not subjected to such brutal violence. I am sure she must be proud of being the agent of such a change today, but she is evidently feeling miserable about the need of such a change in our society.
Unfortunately, we are a country where government takes seven years to realize that acid is turning a bane for women and victims of acid attacks should be helped financially. And then it says the next victim can claim Rs 3 lakh within two and a half months of the attack from the state government. I refuse to believe in such a democracy and such system of justice. Justice here completely neglects the victim and is centred around the idea of punishment, like schools. May be it is because of schools that we have come out such faulty pieces in the society.
Here, on behalf of the campaign, I would like to thank all the media houses that have taken this issue to the people of this country and beyond. Please help us take our society closer to humanity. Crimes are a part of every society. But, their nature defines the extent of cruelty of its people.
Many of our friends and well wishers from abroad have expressed their bewilderment upon learning that such a crime is rampant in India. Our women are beautiful. May be, more sincere and honest than the men in this country. And, they should be respected, loved, cared for. Stop Acid Attacks, please.

“If you tremble with indignation at every injustice then you are a comrade of mine.” 
― Ernesto Guevara

Suneet Shukla is a Dakoo at Bom Sight & Thought House, who has set up his gypsy house to strengthen Stop Acid Attacks campaign. Working with a friend from his alma mater (Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media, Bangalore) Alok Dixit, who initiated this campaign with an aim to help victims, their rehabilitation and enthuse in them the spirit to emerge as a winner, Dakoo wishes to serve the cause of educating fellow human beings about peaceful coexistence, with special regard to issues of gender discrimination and related crimes and freedom of speech and expression. Suneet finds his heart fluttering for the road quite often. He writes, shoots, edits and dramatizes whatever that attracts his sight to discover the ultimate truth (if at all it exists). Write to him at contact@stopacidattacks.org

4 comments:

  1. Very well written! I pray these men and their religions and belief systems will change before another beautiful soul is damaged. I am pretty poor so I cannot do anything to help EXCEPT spread the word. Love to you and all these women, I admire their courage.

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  2. The government apathy was evident when members of parliament protested vehemently against treating stalking and eve-teasing as serious crime. It is unchecked stalking and eve-teasing that leads men to believe that they can push the boundaries, that they can get away with aggressive behavior, and leads to graver and more serious crime. Why doesn't our government have the brains to understand that nipping petty crime in the bud, is what will discourage it from crossing over into serious crime?

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  3. Thank you. The government alone does not hold the responsibility Madhavi. There is something beyond justice called conscience. We as people need to get rid of our hypocrisy as far as gender issues are concerned. People should stop talking feminism and labelling themselves and should rather follow the feminist in them. Spread the word.

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  4. Thank you. The government alone does not hold the responsibility Madhavi. There is something beyond justice called conscience. We as people need to get rid of our hypocrisy as far as gender issues are concerned. People should stop talking feminism and labelling themselves and should rather follow the feminist in them. Spread the word.

    Well said , We as a society are still extremely backwards and see women as nothing but an object for sex/desire, I tell you, 80% of India do not think of women as equal human beings with equal rights, they are just an object for lust/sex , bearing children and doing all the work in the home throughout her life without any salary like it is something she is bound to do,we as a society are extremely backwards

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Chhanv

    About Us

    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.

    Our Mission

    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.

    Support Us

    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.

    Click this link to donate for a good cause.

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    We welcome all the volunteers to come forward and join us in our camping and contribute in whatever way possible. Please visit the Join Us page for more details.