No longer called acid victims- ‘Living with honor by Sheroes Cafe’

Sheroes Hangout is the country's first cafe chain managed and run by acid attack survivors

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March 07, 2017: It is often remarked that it is the face and not the woman is the attraction – perhaps this may be true for many but for some it is a woeful affliction. An Acid attack not only annihilates victim’s face but also annihilates the victim’s aspirations as well. The thought like of never been able to face the mirror frightens the soul of the victim. Think about it for a moment – ‘It is an impeccable life for you until the tragic day comes and one splash of corrosive acid on a spotless face crashes your world upside down’, Heart throbbing it will be to even empathize with these women.

This report contains excerpts from the interview conducted by a reporter Naina Mishra of NewsGram with the team of ‘Sheroes’, a cafe chain run by the acid attack survivors.

A Study on Acid Attack

According to Acid Survivors Trust International (AFSI) report, Acid attack is rampant in many parts of the world. Acid Survivors Trust International estimated that 1500 acid attack takes place annually worldwide. In context to India, there are between 100-150 acid attack yearly, as reported by Acid Survivors Foundation India (ASFI). Furthermore, Northern region of India has the highest incidence of acid violence accounting for 58% of the attacks while Eastern region with 18%, Western Region with 16% and Southern Region with 8% follow suit. Among the states of northern India, Uttar Pradesh is leading in terms of ill reputation with 234 attacks followed by 104 attacks in Delhi UT and 38 in Punjab (2010 -2014).

Sheroes Hangout – An Epitome of true warrior

Team of sheroes hangout, Acid attack survivors

Sheroes hangout is a café situated in Agra which is run by five acid attack survivors. Sheroes is a perfect example for women who struggled with fortitude in face of brutality. ‘Sheroes’ title was coined with the thought of amalgamating ‘she and heroes’.The café was started with ‘Stop acid attack campaign’ launched on 08 March 2013 (also celebrated as International Women’s Day).

Instead of being victimized these survivors chose to live a life of the valiant woman. They are no longer sitting and hiding their faces in a corner, but have stepped their way out to earn a respectable living for themselves.  Sheroes Hangout is also the country’s first cafe chain managed and run by acid attack survivors. The NGO was first started in Delhi. Neetu and Geeta (mother and daughter), acid attack survivors were in search of work but couldn’t go to Delhi due to disinclination, Hence it was collectively thought to start sheroes café as means of employment for these fighters. The team of Sheroes café works for the prosperity of these survivors by aiding them financially or by giving them medical assistance.

“I have evolved stronger with time and I see myself much happier now. I can now walk with head held high without the fear of being judged. I don’t care what people think about me unless I am working for myself.” told Roopa, an acid attack survivor at sheroes café to Newsgram.

Roopa, a 24-year-old girl, and an acid attack survivor have paved her path from a survivor to a fighter rigorously. She did not step out of her home from 5 years since the attack, until one auspicious day which showered blessing in her life yet again. She then met with the team of ‘stop acid attack’ campaign and joined the campaign in 2013. Roopa has been a part of the Sheroes since then. Roopa now feels confident about herself and she no longer has to cover her face out of humiliation. Roopa used to profane her ill-fated life by considering herself the only girl afflicted by the trauma. Later when she joined the campaign, she realized that her pain is minuscule in front of these survivors. Some of them have lost the hearing sense while some cannot see. Pain allows people to grow and what you become out of it is completely your choice. However, sheroes women had already decided their fate themselves. They knew what they were doing and succeeded.
“At first I used to think that I was the only one but when I came here I met 8 survivors. Some were not able to see from one eye, some could not speak. It has been 8 years and we are each other’s support.” Roopa further added.

An era of change

The acid attack victims are no longer seen as petrified and victimized. This indeed is an era of revolution where a woman’s voice can not be locked by these violators anymore. We see these women more fierce and brave. Those who tried to harm the existence of women forgot the very fact about the inception of a person’s life, which is also produced by none other than a woman itself. It is certain that nothing can halt the invincible ardor of a woman. Just like these survivors did to rebuild themselves from the misery.

reporting by Naina Mishra of Newsgram, Twitter @Nainamishr94