Wednesday November 21, 2018
Home India No longer cal...

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

0
//
acid
Republish
Reprint

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 

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 NewsGram

Next Story

Atal Bihari Vajpayee: A Peace Visionary and a Man Who Believed in India’s Destiny and was Ready To Fight For It

It was precisely this persona of Vajpayee -- one merged in Hindutva ideology yet seemingly not wholly willing to bow to it -- that won him admirers cutting across the political spectrum.

0
Atal Bihari Vajpayee,
Atal Bihari Vajpayee, India's peace visionary. Image: Flickr

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a man of moderation in a fraternity of jingoistic nationalists; a peace visionary in a region riven by religious animosity; and a man who believed in India’s destiny and was ready to fight for it.

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee (93), who died on Thursday, will go down in history as a person who tried to end years of hostility with Pakistan and put development on the front burner of the country’s political agenda. He was also the first non-Congress Prime Minister to complete a full five-year term.

Even though he lived the last 13 years of his life in virtual isolation, dogged by debilitating illnesses and bedridden, he has left an enduring legacy for the nation and the region where he was much loved and respected across the political spectrum and national boundaries, including in Pakistan.

Vajpayee, former Indian Prime Minister
Vajpayee stunned the world by making India a declared nuclear state. Image: Wikimedia Commons

In the tumultuous period he presided over the destiny of the world’s largest democracy, Vajpayee stunned the world by making India a declared nuclear state and then almost went to war with Pakistan before making peace with it in the most dramatic fashion.
In the process, his popularity came to match that of Indira Gandhi, a woman he admired for her guts even as he hated her politics.

He also became the best-known national leader after Indira Gandhi and her father Jawaharlal Nehru.

After despairing for years that he would never become Prime Minister and was destined to remain an opposition leader all his life, he achieved his goal, but only for 13 days, from May 16-28, 1996, after his deputy, L.K. Advani, chose not to contest elections that year.
His second term came on March 19, 1998, and lasted 13 months, a period during which India stunned the world by undertaking a series of nuclear tests that invited global reproach.

Although his tenure again proved short-lived, his and his government’s enhanced stature following the world-defying blasts enabled him to return as Prime Minister for the third time on October 13, 1999, a tenure that lasted a full five-year term.

When finally he stepped down in May 2004, after an election that he was given to believe he would win, it marked the end of a long and eventful political career spanning six decades.

Vajpayee had gone into these elections riding a personality cult that projected him as a man who had brought glory to the nation in unprecedented ways. The BJP’s election strategy rested on seeking a renewed mandate over three broad pillars of achievement that the government claimed — political stability in spite of the pulls and pressures of running a multi-party coalition; a “shining” economy that saw a dizzying 10.4 percent growth in the last quarter of the previous year; and peace with Pakistan that changed the way the two countries looked at each other for over 50 years.

The results of the elections could not have come as a greater shock to a man who was hailed for his achievements and who was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 influential men of the decade.

Success didn’t come easily to the charismatic politician, who was born on Christmas Day in 1924 in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, into a family of moderate means. His father was a school teacher and Vajpayee would later recall his early brush with poverty.

He did his Masters in Political Science, studying at the Victoria College in Gwalior and at the DAV College in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, where he first contested, and lost, elections. He began his professional career as a journalist, working with Rashtradharma, a Hindi monthly, Panchjanya, a Hindi weekly, and two Hindi dailies, Swadesh and Veer Arjun. By then he had firmly embraced the ideals of the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS).
But even as he struggled to win electoral battles, his command over Hindi, the lingua franca of the North Indian masses, his conciliatory politics and his riveting oratory brought him into public limelight.

Also read: For Modi, Road To 2019 Will Be Steeper

His first entry into Parliament was in 1962 through the Rajya Sabha, the upper house. It was only in 1971 that he won a Lok Sabha election. He was elected to the lower house seven times and to the Rajya Sabha twice.

Vajpayee
Vajpayee spent months in prison when Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency rule in June 1975. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Vajpayee spent months in prison when Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency rule in June 1975 and put her political opponents in jail. When the Janata Party took office in 1977, dethroning the Congress for the first time, he became the foreign minister.

The lowest point in his career came when he lost the 1984 Lok Sabha polls, that too from his birthplace Gwalior, after Rajiv Gandhi won an overwhelming majority following his mother Indira Gandhi’s assassination. And the BJP he led ended up with just two seats in
the 545-member Lok Sabha, in what looked like the end of the road for the right-wing party.

In no time, Vajpayee was replaced and “eclipsed” by his long-time friend L.K. Advani.
Although they were the best of friends publicly, Vajpayee never fully agreed with Advani’s and the assorted Hindu nationalist groups’ strident advocacy of Hindutva, an ideology ranged against the idea of secular India.

Often described as the right man in the wrong party, there were also those who belittled him as a moderate “mask” to a hardline Hindu nationalist ideology. Often he found his convictions and value systems at odds with the party, but the bachelor-politician never went against it.

It was precisely this persona of Vajpayee — one merged in Hindutva ideology yet seemingly not wholly willing to bow to it — that won him admirers cutting across the political spectrum. It was this trait that made him the Prime Minister when the BJP’s allies concluded they needed a moderate to steer a hardliner, pro-Hindu party.

He brought into governance measures that created for India a distinct international status on the diplomatic and economic fronts. In his third prime ministerial stint, Vajpayee launched a widely acclaimed diplomatic initiative by starting a bus service between New Delhi and Pakistan’s Lahore city.

Its inaugural run in February 1999 carried Vajpayee and was welcomed on the border by his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif. It was suspended only after the 2001 terror attack on the Indian Parliament that nearly led to a war between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

The freeze between the two countries, including an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation on the border for nearly a year, was finally cracked in the spring of 2003 when Vajpayee, while in Kashmir, extended a “hand of friendship” to Pakistan. That led to the historic summit in January 2004 with then President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad — a remarkable U-turn after the failed summit in Agra of 2001. Despite the two men being so far apart in every way, Musharraf developed a strong liking for the Indian leader.

His unfinished task, one that he would probably rue, would be the peace process with Pakistan that he had vowed to pursue to its logical conclusion and a resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

He was not known as “Atal-Ji”, a name that translates into firmness, for nothing. He could go against the grain of his party if he saw it deviate from its path. When Hindu hardliners celebrated the destruction of the 16th century Babri Mosque at Ayodhya, he was full of personal remorse for the apocalyptic action and called it — in a landmark interview to IANS — the “worst miscalculation” and a “misadventure”. He even despaired that “moderates have no place — who is going to listen to the voice of sanity?”

In his full five-year term, he successively carried forward India’s economic reforms programme with initiatives to improve infrastructure, including flagging off a massive national highway project that has become associated with his vision, went for massive privatisation of unviable state undertakings despite opposition from even within his own party.

While his personal image remained unsullied despite his long innings in the murky politics of this country, his judgment was found wanting when his government was rocked by an arms bribery scandal that sought to expose alleged payoffs to some senior members of his cabinet. His failure to speak up when members of his party and its sister organisations, who are accused of killing more than 1,000 Muslims in Gujarat, was questioned by the liberal fraternity who wondered aloud about his secular proclamations. He wanted then Chief Minister — now Prime Minister, Narendra Modi — to take responsibility for the riots and quit but was prevailed upon by others not to press his decision.

A day before his party lost power, Vajpayee was quoted as saying in a television interview that if and when he stepped down he would like to devote his time to writing and poetry. But fate ruled otherwise. The man who once rued that “I have waited too long to be Prime Minister” found his last days in a world far removed from the adulation and attention — though across the nation people prayed for his well-being — surrounded only by care-givers and close family whom he even failed to recognize. (IANS)