At the threshold of a new life and with the promise of a bright tomorrow, a lady doctor left the safety of her home for her workplace. What she did not know was a routine two-wheeler ride on a usual Tuesday morning will change her life forever.
Two masked men on a bike brazenly threw a highly corrosive acid on the woman, leaving her pained and handicapped for life. Her crime? She declined a marriage proposal from her friend.
This was not an aberration or the story of just one girl. Lately, the news has been abuzz with similar stories, highlighting the state of our society and the sick mentality of men in our country who soothe their hurt ego by resorting to such heinous crimes against women.
There is no available statistics or official data on acid attacks, but a consensus on the subject reveals that the numbers have been growing. Is it the widely available lethal liquid that is easy to procure or is it the absence of respect that men seem to have for the women in our country, or still is it our failed society that has not been able to bring up the boys the right way?
What becomes of the survivors of such attacks? There are some who take strength from their life and choose to fight the battle with indomitable courage against the perpetrators of the crime and there are others who confine themselves to the four walls or take comfort in the cloth wrapped around their face while moving out on the streets to avoid probing stares and unwanted gaze from strangers. In both cases, life becomes a struggle.
Those who have had the mental strength to keep moving forward have become an inspiration to many. A group of survivors’ steely resolve translated into a new cafe called Sheroes Hangout. The cafe, located near the Taj Mahal, is a collaborative effort between the survivors and a Delhi-based NGO. They chose to name it Sheroes as a tribute to their courage. A 22 year old girl Neetu, who works at the cafe and is also a survivor of acid attack, is overjoyed with the venture and feels it has given a purpose to her life.
Another survivor traversed a journey and emerged stronger from the incident. From requesting the government to give her the right to kill herself to getting featured on the most popular Indian television show “Kaun Banega Crorepati”, Sonali Mukherjee, won her inner battle. The only chink in her armour she feels is getting the three accused, who threw acid on her, back to where they belong, having got out on bail after serving only three years out of nine. But is it her battle to fight? Isn’t the judiciary as much responsible to ensure she gets justice?
A PIL filed in 2006 by another survivor Laxmi led the Supreme Court to take cognizance of the increasing rate of acid attacks on women and regulate the sale of acid across the country. On 18 July, 2013, the order came into effect which stated that acid attacks shall be considered a non-bailable offence and state governments will have to pay a compensation of Rs.3 lakh to an acid attack victim. A ray of hope would you say?
Unfortunately, acid is still up for purchase in many stores. The law enforcers need to ensure that no store owner would be let off easily if found guilty of selling unauthorised acid. This would go a long way in taking the first step towards bringing justice to the victims, and curbing incidents that corrode innocent lives.
By – Jaya Sinha,
Deputy Director – Media & Communication,
Fiinovation | www.fiinovation.co.in