Their stories are both heart-wrenching and inspiring. Despite the horrifying experience these acid attack survivors went through, they didn't let it get the better of them.
Before 2013, the Indian criminal law did not even identify acid attacks as a separate offence. In 2014, 225 acid attack cases were recorded in India, which means they doubled compared to 2013 (116) and 1012 (106).
The latest statistics show that in 2015, 249 such cases were recorded, which is the highest so far. Hence, there is reason to believe that there has been a steep rise in such crimes.
When UK-based Resham Khan turned 21 in June this year, she was attacked with acid on her face by a stranger.
Recently, she shared images of her amazing recovery on Twitter for which she made news both in India and internationally.
But Resham had to bear the brunt of trolls as well. Negative tweets by users calling her names or accusing her of doing this for publicity made it worse, which compelled Resham to write a blog post explaining how the focus should’ve been on what was beneath her skin and not otherwise.
Meanwhile, she admitted that although it was layers of makeup hiding her scars, the point was that she survived the attack and came out strong.
“I’ve felt my skin burn with acid. You can’t hurt me,” she tweeted in response to the hate.
This is why it gets important to share stories of acid attack survivors who braved the hate and didn’t hide their scars.
Laxmi Agarwal was only 15 when she was attacked in 2005 by a jilted lover and his companion. Her face and some body parts were disfigured due to the attack. Besides compensation, she filed a PIL in the Supreme Court that a new law be framed, or the existing ones are amended. This was when her career as a campaigner with ‘Stop Acid Attacks’ took off, and she became the voice of survivors the world over.
Monica Singh had dreams of becoming a fashion designer. In 2005, when she was 19-years-old, her neighbour hired someone to throw acid on her after she refused to elope and get married to him.
But that didn’t stop her from finishing what she had set out to do.
Not only does she use fashion to empower survivors, but she has also started a Mahendra Singh Foundation to help end this global issue.
In 2012, a cousin threw acid on Lalita Benbansi when she was visiting her hometown in Uttar Pradesh, just 15 days before her wedding. Lalita had to undergo 17 surgeries after the attack. But recently, Lalita found love in man behind a wrong number. She tied the knot with a 27-year-old man, who accidentally dialled her number one day, which got the two talking and eventually married.
Reshma Qureshi was 17 when she was attacked with sulfuric acid by her brother-in-law and two assailants. The attack was actually aimed at her sister, but Reshma was mistaken for her.
After a long time spent with suicidal thoughts, Reshma came out strong and became the face of the Make Love Not Scars campaign. This began her modelling career, and Reshma also started beauty tutorials online.
When Archana was 18, her neighbour would repeatedly harass her to marry him. After she ignored him and his death threats to her father, he threw acid on her face. She was taken to the hospital a shocking six hours after the attack, by which time her face had become completely disfigured.
She had 40 surgeries performed on her.
Archana let this incident inspire her, and joined the Make Love Not Scars campaign. She finished her studies, completed a Computer (basic) class and became an experienced front desk staff member.
She was also featured on the Humans of Bombay Facebook page.
Mamta is another acid attack survivor part of the campaign. Mamta had refused to bear a child with her abusive husband, and when she decided to move out of his house, he attacked her with acid. Mamta is now a trained beauty therapist, make-up artist, hair stylist and has been employed in various beauty salons.
In 1999, Haseena Hussain’s attacker, who was her boss, threw acid on her for refusing to marry him after she had left her job in his office. The hospital refused to treat her unless Rs 1 lakh was deposited. She was only treated after three days, and by then she had suffered 70 percent burns – and lost her eyesight. Despite that, Haseena decided to join Enable India instead of sitting at home. There she was taught computer and other skills. Today she provides for her family and does work without anyone’s help.
The list of survivors is long, and so are their accomplishments after the attack. To each and every one of them, we here at The Better India, send our best wishes.