In a male dominated society like India, most of the women have been facing exploitation and oppression at every step of their lives. Even when India is advancing in several stages, mostly women have to face endless difficulties throughout life. She has to struggle even before entering this world. Whenever a woman has tried to raise her voice, or has taken a step forward against men, then the male chauvinism has always suppressed or eliminated her- either in the form of female feticide or in the form of child marriage, and there are endless cases when this suppression leads to heinous crimes against women.
Acid attack is one such crime against women. It not only just inflicts physical injuries but also destroys the victim's entire life, leaving the scars not just on the body but also on the mind and soul of the victim. Acid attacks in India have ravaged the lives of thousands of young women whose only fault was that they repudiated marriage proposals, rejected sexual advances from men they didn’t fancy, or were caught in the crossfire of domestic disputes. In India’s patriarchal society, men who take umbrage at being rejected turn to acid as a weapon for revenge.
Acid attack severely damage skin tissue, often exposing and even dissolving the bones. This disfigures not only their facial features, but also makes them blind and deaf to an extent. The act rarely kills but causes severe physical and psychological harm, and the stereotype thinking of the society harms them mentally. These victims are mostly limited to legal help, and merely get any medical or psychological assistance. Moreover, in some cases, even the family of the victim disowns them, some due to the lack of support from Medical, and some in the name of honor, thanks to the standards set by our Stereotyped Society.
Easy availability of acid facilitates the use of acid as a weapon. Recently, the Supreme Court went to the extent of banning over the counter sale of acid in shops across India, but its direction is mostly on paper, as acid is still available to whosoever wishes to purchase.
This Story is about a group, which came forward and took a step against this heinous crime even when they themselves have been victimized by this. They joined hands, and raised their voice against Acid Attack. They together, are working in a café, named Sheroes Hangout, Sheroes Hangout is an initiative by Stop Acid Attacks campaign that was founde in 2013. Sheroes, here, are women who have fought back for life and survival through heinous chemical burns and are now, on a course to define themselves as 'fighters'. They are responsible for the overall administration and functioning of the Café.
We have already tolerated a lot; this attack has turned our lives completely. But, this won’t stop us from living our lives and achieving our dreams; said one of the survivors. One of them aspires to be a Fashion Designer, one of them wants to study more, one of them is very fond of singing, and not just this, they together dream of breaking all the barriers made by the Society, and wants to make their own space and identity. Moreover, they wish to help other survivors too, from across the country, and aspire to be a team of people, who are known for their fighting spirits.
Through this project, I want to showcase this gruesome reality of our culture that has been covered by masks of being good, and want to show the story of such survivors who have taken a step against it. I want to bring various factors pertaining to these attacks, and want more survivors to come forward. I wish to travel places and reach more people through my photo story, so that they know about such brave girls and more people join in with them.