Since ages acid attacks have been happening on women and men, they go in deep depression and end their lives in dark rooms. Now the era has changed, there is social acceptance and kindness in people’s heart that is voluntarily giving support to such fellow human beings.
Twenty six year-old Lalita, an acid attack victim was supposed to get married to a different man in 2012. However, the ceremony was cut short when Lalita’s cousins attacked her with acid, owing to personal enmity. The acid burnt most of Lalita’s face, due to which she had to undergo 17 surgeries at the Bombay Hospital and Masina Hospital in Mumbai. As her treatment continued, Lalita, around two months ago, received a call from an unknown man named Rahul Kumar. As luck would have it, the two met, fell in love, and decided to get married. And they did. The youth of our country has changed his perception about would be partner. There are many men these days, looking for kind-hearted girls than the beautiful faces. They have no problem in marrying such girls.
One famous name, Laxmi Agarwal and her partner, inspired many men to come forward and take a step ahead. She was an acid attack survivor and speaks for the rights of acid attack victims, gave voices to such victims and since then the society at large openly is speaking about the same. Not only that but also many celebrities have come forward to help them voluntarily. The victims have got life partners too. She was attacked in 2005 at the age of 15, by a 32-year-old man Naeem Khan alias Gudda whose advances she had rejected. Her story, among others, was told in a series on acid attack victims in media report. She has also advocated against acid attacks by gathering 27,000 signatures for a petition to curb acid sales, and taking that cause to the Supreme Court. Her petition led the Supreme Court to order the central and state governments to regulate the sale of acid, and the Parliament to make prosecutions of acid attacks easier to pursue.
In 2014, she was in love with social activist Alok Dixit. Both decided not to get married and instead be in a live-in relationship. They decided to live together until death. But later on they got tied in wedlock, now they have a beautiful daughter too. This particular love story has set examples for many youth. Since then there are numerous stories of acid attack victims getting married and extending families. She is the director of Chhanv Foundation, a NGO dedicated to help the survivors of acid attacks in India. Laxmi received a 2014 International Women of Courage Awards by then US First Lady Michelle Obama. Since she has taken up this issue to the globe, now there are many victims who follow her footsteps and all are doing reasonably well in their lives.
Trustworthy statistics for the crime are difficult to ascertain. The Indian government confirmed that the number of female acid attack victims as 98 in 2011, 85 in 2012 and 80 in 2013. However, acid survivor support groups say these figures are misleading and do not account for the many cases that go unreported, as well as those involving male victims.
What has changed now is the outlook, people are openly condemning such attacks and society at large has stood by the victims in recent past. Brave young woman who suffered horrific acid attacks have spoken out against the culprits. They are strongly holding their foot in the ground, and yet trying to live with dignity.
Acid attack is not something unnoticed in India. It has stunned the morality of our nation again and again – with mutilated faces, unbeaten survivors coming to the frontlines to share their horrific stories, and families driven to bankruptcy supporting recovery costs. The Indian Penal Code was modified in 2013 for the first time to add regulations tailored to acid attacks. Acid attack is possibly the worst infliction 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. The means to this evil remain quite accessible to most and the causes provoking such cruelty can be incredibly trivial. 85% of victims are women, so acid attack can overwhelmingly be classified as gender violence. For the 15% male victims, the primary cause of attack is property dispute or jealousy.
The reason for attack might be anything, but these odd acts of people have not deterred good people to come forward and lend hand in all capacities. The society is changing, people are more mature and sensitive towards these victims and every day there is new hope of ray in their lives. There are many who can raise their voices unless they are heard and attended.
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