Devanshi Yadav was attacked by acid at 14 and faced sexual abuse at 18. She founded the ‘Shaheed Ramashray Welfare Society’ NGO in Bareilly to help victims get support and legal aid.
Trigger warning: Mentions of sexual abuse and domestic violence
Devanshi Yadav (31) was just nine months old when she lost her father. When Devanshi was 14, she was attacked with acid by a boy after she rejected his advances. The left side of her body was burnt. It took a long time for her to heal physically, but what hurt more was the victim shaming.
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“While the pain was unbearable, it was the comments from people that left me shaken. People would shame me and say, ‘It’s the way you dress; you asked for it!’ After a year, the scars started to fade, but the incident wrecked my self-confidence and left me very scared,” adds the activist.
As she was recovering, a family friend tried to assault her. When he did it again, she broke her silence. Realising that there were many like her who must be afraid to speak up, she decided to do something to help them.
Taking strength from her father, she says, “All the stories I remember are of him being a great human being and a servant of the society. Even from a young age, I knew I wanted to be like him.”
So she started an NGO in her father’s honour called Shaheed Ramashray Welfare Society in Bareilly, with the aim of helping victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence get justice. The welfare society gives them free legal aid. Devanshi also gives them free counselling and accompanies victims to the police station and court.
“Getting proper counselling and knowing the next steps is an essential part of healing after abuse. The people who come to me are usually very scared and unsure of what to do,” she shares.
“All the injustices and horrible things I suffered should not be the fate of anyone else. Life really knocked me down and I really wanted to help people who were suffering. To me, this fight is personal and I will take it as far as I can,” she adds.
Watch this video to learn more about Devanshi’s journey:
Edited by Pranita Bhat
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