‘Let Scars Be Your Gift’: Acid Attacks In India
I consider myself highly privileged to have worked with acid attack victims. Working with NISA, an NGO based in India, I got the chance to interact with acid attack survivors, a brutal reality that ruins lives.
Acid attacks are not something unheard of in India, we know about it but we never talk about it. Acid attacks are possibly the worst destruction on another human – leading to complete debilitation, loss of income and opportunity, and even social sequestration- and it can happen to anyone, at any time.
India has the highest number of acid attacks in the world. There are 1,500 recorded acid attacks each year with more than 1,000 cases estimated to occur in India alone. There are no prizes for guessing that most of the survivors of acid attacks are of course- women.
So when a girl walks out of the house, she enters another territory. I blame Bollywood. The over dramatisation of a male chasing a woman he supposedly ‘falls in love’ with but cannot win her love, resorts to such extreme measures to ruin her life in revenge. Sadly most acid attacks stem from this very ideology,
Let me give you an example. A girl goes to her college every day. She ignores eve teasers. One day she slaps them hard. But he thinks her touch was worth it. Then he follows even more. He assumes her silence to be yes. And when she rejects him one day, his ego is hurt, after that all that hard work he put in. He cannot take rejection. So he is revengeful and attacks her with acid. He thinks just because she is blessed with good looks, she has no right to be proud of herself. How can she even say ‘No’?
Ritu Shaini from Rohtak was attacked by her own older cousin with acid. He liked her and she ignored him. Though he was imprisoned for life, Shaini was forced to drop out of school in 2012 because it became difficult for her to live in society after the attack.Another case reported by the Guardian in August 2015, was when Geeta Mohar’s husband poured acid on her for giving him a daughter and not a son.
It is incredibly important to break the egotistic mindsets of many Indian men, who by virtue of tradition, think they can control a woman’s life, and if not, destroy it.
What factors follow acid attack?
Past cases reveal motives of revenge, sadism, and coercive action. The main causes are: Family disputes; domestic violence; relationship conflicts, refusal of indecent proposals or unacceptable propositions.
Why is acid so easily available in the market?
Despite the frequency of occurrence of this crime, the weapon “acid” is easily available in any town or village or a city. Acid sale is officially banned in India, but it is used in toilet cleaning in many areas, and thus easily available. It also costs less than a rupee a litre.
The government of India took several actions to reduce acid attacks and seems like it’s slowly but surely working.
Section 326A and Section 326B of Indian Penal Code includes punishment which is given to an accused which read as follow:
Section 326A lays down the punishment for acid throwing. The minimum punishment is 10 years imprisonment. It can extend up to life imprisonment with fine.
Section 326 B lays down the punishment for attempted acid throwing. The minimum punishment is 5 years imprisonment. It can extend up to 7 years imprisonment with fine.
The attackers think that they can take away everything from the victim if they get to destroy their face but no we have several examples of fighters who took the courage to come forward, who made their scars their identity rather than hiding their faces in shame.
I met Laxmi Agarwal, she is an Indian campaigner with Stop Acid Attacks and a TV host. She is an acid attack survivor and speaks for the rights of acid attack victims. Laxmi is no less than a star that shines even after falling
Reshma Bano Qureshi is also one such person who has become the toast of India and the world ever since she walked the ramp at the New York Fashion Week.
I can’t tell you how inspirational I find quote, “If burning is your culture from ashes we rise,let scars be your gift and you can burn a smile.
Beauty lies in acceptance.”
Indeed beauty lies in acceptance.